Sunteți pe pagina 1din 99

Gender, Trafficking,

and Slavery
Edited by Rachel Masika

Oxfam Focus on Gender

The books in Oxfam's Focus on Gender series were originally published as single issues of
the journal Gender and Development, which is published by Oxfam three times a year.
It is the only British journal to focus specifically on gender and development issues
internationally, to explore the links between gender and development initiatives, and to
make the links between theoretical and practical work in this field. For information
about subscription rates, please apply to Carfax Publishing, Taylor and Francis Ltd,
Customer Services Department, Rankine Road, Basingstoke, Hants RG24 8PR UK;
fax: + 44 (0) 1256 330 245. In North America, please apply to Taylor and Francis Inc,
Customer Services Department, 325 Chestnut Street, 8th Floor, Philadelphia, PA 19106, USA;
fax (+1) 800 8218312. In Australia, please apply to Carfax Publishing Company, PO Box
352, Cammeray, NSW 2062, Australia; fax: +61 (0) 2 9958 2376.
E-mail: or visit

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted
in any form or by any means without the written permission of the Publisher.

The views expressed in this book are those of the individual contributors,
and not necessarily those of the Editors or the Publisher.

Front cover: Children working as bonded labourers in a carpet-weaving shed, Pakistan

Photo: Ben Buxton, Oxfam

Oxfam GB 2002
Published by Oxfam GB, 274 Banbury Road, Oxford OX2 7DZ, UK.
Typeset in Palatino by Oxfam; printed by Information Press, Eynsham
Oxfam is a registered charity No. 202918
Oxfam GB is a member of Oxfam International
ISBN 085598 478 3

This book converted to digital file in 2010

Editorial 2
Suzanne Williams and Rachel Masika

Crossing borders and building bridges: the Baltic Region Networking Project 10
Carolina Johansson Wennerholm

Who gets to choose? Coercion, consent, and the UN Trafficking Protocol 20

Jo Doezema

Human rights or wrongs? The struggle for a rights-based response to trafficking in

human beings 28
Ann D. Jordan

Trafficking in children in West and Central Africa 38

Mike Dottridge

Child marriage and prostitution: two forms of sexual exploitation? 43

Susanne Louis B. Mikhail

Slavery and gender: women's double exploitation 50

Beth Herzfeld

Half-hearted protection: what does victim protection really mean for victims of
trafficking in Europe? 56
Elaine Pearson

NGO responses to trafficking in women 60

Marina Tzvetkova

A tale of two cities: shifting the paradigm of anti-trafficking programmes 69

Smarajit Jana, Nandinee Bandyopadhyay, Mrinal Kanti Dutta, and Amitrajit Saha

Reducing poverty and upholding human rights: a pragmatic approach 80

Meena Poudel and Ines Smyth

Resources 87
Compiled by Nittaya Thiraphouth
Publications 87
Organisations 92
Electronic resources 94
Videos 94
Conferences 95
This book converted to digital file in 2010
Suzanne Williams and Rachel Masika

rafficking and slavery are areas of Amongst national and international
human experience that are highly organisations seeking to intervene on
complex and which evoke powerful behalf of - or in partnership with -
and contradictory feelings amongst those trafficked people there exist deep divisions,
attempting to understand them. Slavery on issues of principle, perception, and
itself is something we like to consign to the strategy. These divisions relate especially to
dark period of colonial history, but it is still, two issues - the fine line between
uncomfortably, with us. Today it takes on a trafficking and migration, and the
broader and more clandestine range of distinction between 'free' and 'forced'
relationships that are less characteristic of prostitution. 1 These distinctions have
the slave trading of previous centuries. important consequences for the protection
Ordinary people are alarmed to discover of the human rights of trafficked persons in
that they may be implicated in slavery by receiving countries, and for the free move-
becoming part of a commercial chain which ment of people through assisted voluntary
exploits the bonded labour of children in migration. This debate is explored in
the carpet industry; or by buying chocolate several articles. It is also the case that the
produced from cocoa worked by enslaved voices of the women, children, and men
labourers in West Africa. who are enslaved, traded, and trafficked,
One aspect of modern slavery which and their accounts of their experiences, vary
elicits particular revulsion is the trafficking enormously in accordance with differences
of women, girls, and boys into the sex in their national context, their societies, and
industry, and this is one of the issues upon their expectations of life. As this collection
which many of the contributors here focus. will show, there is no single truth here, but
This raises the issue of gender discrimination a wide range of different perceptions,
and oppression, and the ways in which contexts, and strongly-held convictions.
gendered power converges with poverty to However, there are common elements in the
drive or lure women and girls into factors which expose people to trafficking
situations where they are subjected to and slavery-like practices, which define the
extreme forms of violence. It also raises coercion and exploitation that characterises
questions about women's agency and these practices, and which form the basis of
empowerment, and tests the hypocrisies of strategies to address them. These elements
moral judgements and double standards in include inequality and oppression based on
relation to women's and men's sexuality gender, age, race and caste, poverty and the
and identity. struggle to overcome it, deception, corruption,
and greed.

Over the past 50 years a number of forms of exploitation such as forced

international instruments have been created marriage and forced labour, reflected in
to deal directly or indirectly with the the Beijing Declaration and Platform for
various elements of slavery and trafficking, Action.
starting with the Universal Declaration of Finally, in the year 2000, all countries
Human Rights (UDHR). The UDHR states signed the UN Convention against
in its opening articles that: 'Everyone has the Transnational Organised Crime and its two
right to life, liberty and security of person. No protocols. One of the protocols deals
one shall be held in slavery and servitude; specifically with trafficking in persons - the
slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish
all their forms.' (Human Rights Web 1997, Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women
Articles 3 and 4) The Convention against and Children. The Protocol provides the
Torture, the Convention on the Rights of the first international definition of trafficking.
Child, the Convention On The Elimination This definition broadens that of the 1949
Of All Forms Of Discrimination Against Convention, which set prostitution at the
Women (CEDAW), and the Declaration on heart of trafficking, and bound states
the Elimination of Violence against Women parties to 'take all necessary measures to
all attempt to state and regulate the rights repeal or abolish any law, regulation or
and duties of human beings, as individuals administrative provisions by virtue of
and in society. The 1926 Slavery Convention which persons who are engaged in, or are
was supplemented in 1956 by the suspected of engaging in, prostitution are
Supplementary Convention on the Abolition subject either to special registration or to
of Slavery and the Slave Trade and the possession of a special document or to
Institutions and Practices Similar to Slavery, any exceptional requirements for
and expanded the definition of slavery to supervision or notification'. Advocates of
those acts having the same effects as this 'abolitionist' system emphasise
slavery, such as debt bondage, serfdom, effective legislation against illicit traffic and
and exploitation of the labour of women exploitation of the traffic of others, drafted
and children. to preclude traffickers and profiteers from
The 1949 Convention for the circumventing them and escaping punish-
Suppression of the Trafficking in Persons ment. There is no distinction between
and Exploitation of the Prostitution of forced and voluntary prostitution.
Others (the Trafficking Convention), The definition of trafficking in the UN
building upon international instruments protocol (UNODCCP 2000) reads:
concerning 'white slave traffic', brought '"Trafficking in persons" shall mean the
prostitution and trafficking into the same recruitment, transportation, transfer,
legal framework, requiring states parties to harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of
punish those exploiting the prostitution of the threat or use of force or other forms of
others, even with their consent. The coercion, of abduction, offraud, of deception,
contradictions inherent in this Convention of the abuse of power or of a position of
continue to fuel debates about trafficking vulnerability (interpretative note 63) or of
and prostitution today. The Trafficking the giving or receiving of payments or
Convention also calls upon states parties to benefits to achieve the consent of a person
provide care and maintenance for victims of having control over another person, for the
trafficking and to bear the cost of purpose of exploitation. Exploitation shall
repatriation to the nearest border. Since include, at a minimum, the exploitation of
1949, the definition of trafficking of women the prostitution of others or other forms of
and girls was broadened to include other sexual exploitation (interpretative note 64),
forced labour or services, slavery or practices notions of consent and coercion, and shows
similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of how the compromise around consent in the
organs.' protocol leaves the interpretation of what it
actually means to the discretion of states
Interpretative note 64 circumvents the issue
parties. This entails that when the protocol
of different national legal approaches to
is translated into law and policy, initiatives
prostitution, by stating that the protocol
may be either repressive or emancipatory
addresses the exploitation of the prostitution
for women, depending on the state's
of others only in the context of trafficking,
and avoiding a definition of prostitution
itself. By making coercion and deception Ann Jordan also provides an historical
central to the definition of trafficking, it overview of the development of inter-
does not require governments to consider national law on trafficking, and points to
all prostitution to be trafficking, and thus the negative consequence of the conflation
illegal. What the Protocol fails to do, of trafficking with prostitution in the
however, is to require signatories to extend Trafficking Convention of 1949, that of
assistance and human rights protection to criminalising prostitutes and their clients.
trafficked persons. As long as national legal systems follow
this model, there are considerable dangers
The discussion and debates which
for women involved in prostitution. For
surrounded the defining of trafficking
example, they may be forced into the hands
during the drawing up of the protocol
of third parties offering protection from
reflected the polarised positions of many of
arrest and police abuse in exchange for the
the governmental and non-governmental
proceeds of, or control over, sex workers'
organisations involved in the process.
labour. Once the industry is pushed
Several authors in this collection address
underground, organised crime takes over,
these debates. Jo Doezema discusses the
and sex work continues or increases
arguments put forward by two broad lobby
under more violent conditions. Jordan
groups at the negotiations. The Human
argues that a human rights approach to
Rights Caucus views focuses on the rights
trafficking provides a better framework
of trafficking victims. It recognises the
for tackling trafficking because it upholds
difference between forced and voluntary
the rights of the victims.
prostitution, presenting sex work as a
legitimate labour option for women, one in The conditions faced by trafficked
which women have agency, and for which persons include classic elements associated
they should not be penalised, morally or with slavery historically, such as abduction,
legally. The Coalition Against Trafficking in use of false promises, transport to a strange
Women (CATW), problematises prostitution city or country, loss of freedom and
in itself as an extreme form of gender personal dignity, extreme physical abuse,
discrimination, and thus as a violation of and deprivation. The persistent oppression
women's fundamental human rights. of women, and the vulnerability of
A key difference between these two children, intersecting with other forms of
broad coalitions rests on the notion of discrimination such as poverty, caste, and
consent and whether women can meaning- race, means they are over-represented
fully consent to sex work, or are always among trafficked and bonded persons. The
coerced into prostitution by virtue of the International Organisation for Migration
gendered nature of sexual relations, by (IOM) estimates that between 700,000 and
force, or as the result of limited options for two million women and children are
earning a living. Doezema traces the trafficked across international borders
historical context of the debates on the annually (IOM 2001,1).

Accurate numbers are difficult to obtain What facilitates trafficking

due to the clandestine and illegal nature of and slavery?
trafficking, the lack of anti-trafficking
legislation in many countries, the reluctance Globalisation, dislocation, and poverty
of victims to report their experiences to the Globalisation, liberalisation, and free
authorities, and the lack of government market promotion have paved the way for
priority given to data collection and research. the unfettered movement of capital and
Whilst a large proportion of women and labour. While borders have opened for
children are trafficked for the purpose of trade, capital, investors, and individuals
prostitution, men, women, and children are from wealthier countries, people from
trafficked for other purposes that include poorer countries have not been given the
entertainment, sweatshop industries, illegal same freedom of movement. Many Western
adoption of children, organ transplants, nations have introduced stringent
forced marriage, mail-order brides, domestic restrictions and prohibitive immigration
work, forced labour, drug trafficking, and laws to keep out asylum seekers and
begging. economic migrants from poorer countries.
Within this climate of immigration
What drives women, men, and children
restrictions, trafficking has flourished, and
to leave their homes and take unknown
more people are turning to traffickers to
risks at the hands of traffickers? What
facilitate migration. Carolina Wennerholm
compels parents to send their children
provides a brief overview of the extent of
away from home? What mechanisms, trafficking, citing Asia and the Baltic Region
factors, and forces make it possible for some to show how the majority of trafficked
people to exercise ownership rights over persons are women. Patterns of movement
others? To what extent does trafficking or are varied, occurring within countries and
sex work involve consent, choice, or across borders and continents.
coercion? Where do we draw a line
People move for many reasons: they
distinguishing between migration and
may seek better employment opportunities;
trafficking? What are the implications of the
safety from persecution, violence, human
new UN Protocol for trafficked persons?
rights violations, discrimination, religious
What does 'protection' mean for trafficked and cultural tensions; or an escape from
persons? Do current responses and poverty. Economic decline, civil wars,
measures incorporate the specific needs of ethnic conflicts, and environmental disasters
trafficked women, especially those suffering are all 'push factors' and may bring about a
gender-based violence? Does trafficking in breakdown of law and order at home that
women perpetuate and reinforce the makes opportunities for trafficking and
subordinate status of women? bonded forms of labour easier to exploit.
This collection of articles explores and Children captured by the Lord's Resistance
debates these questions, from a range of Army in Uganda, for example, have been
perspectives. The writers highlight the forcibly taken to Sudan and enslaved: boys
different understandings of the issues, the as soldiers, girls as servants, 'wives', and
incentives to migrate, the realities that sex slaves (Leggett 2001).
trafficked persons confront, and the Poverty and the aspiration for a better
inherent complexities in dealing with the way of life are by far the major 'push
outcomes. They emphasise the need for a factors' and are also among the principal
multitude of multi-agency responses that reasons why parents send their children
incorporate human rights considerations away to work. As Wennerholm points out,
and tackle poverty and unequal gender remittances from children's labour can
relations. sustain entire families in some Asian
countries. However, Wennerholm cautions Non-participation in political activity and
against assuming that anti-poverty decision-making processes limits women's
strategies or economic growth on their own ability to effect change, challenge
can eradicate the problem. In countries discriminatory practices, or bring about
where there is an expanding middle class action to prosecute traffickers.
such as Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Several authors in this collection discuss
Philippines, the financial capacity and the gender discrimination that characterises
motivation for men to purchase sex services trafficking and slavery-like practices in
has increased. Where there is a demand for different cultural settings and country-
such services, trafficking in women specific contexts. Smarajit Jana et al. use
increases. case studies to demonstrate the ways in
which gender discrimination, inequality,
Gender-based discrimination and cultural constraints on women in
While males are trafficked also, with trade Bangladesh and India entice women into
in young boys dominating in some parts of trafficking for sex work, and the discrim-
the world, the majority of trafficked persons ination and violence they encounter
are women and girls. Trafficking is a highly thereafter. Jana et al. also debate the role of
gendered transaction. Unequal gender agency, presenting the perspectives of sex
relations and patriarchal values and workers for whom sex work is one of the
systems are at the root of the causes and few available options for self-advancement
patterns of trafficking and other forms of and survival.
enslavement. In all cases, but particularly Beth Herzfeld provides examples of
where it takes the form of violence and gender-specific forms of slavery, such as
sexual abuse against women and girls, ritual servitude in West Africa. In these
discrimination is a major factor behind cases, girls are given by their family to a
trafficking. Key locations of discrimination shrine to atone for a family transgression.
include the household, the family, and the Priests exercise ownership over these girls,
immediate community. who are obliged to act as wives and provide
Because it is widely the case that girls sexual services to their 'owners'. Herzfeld
are less valued than boys, many families highlights the additional hardships that
make less investment in their future. In women and girls face within certain forms
societies where dowry payments are of bonded labour, and the gendered
required, or where girls leave home when differences in the types of work that
they get married and no longer contribute children are forced to take on.
to household income and labour, girls may Meena Poudel and Ines Smyth use the
be perceived to be a financial burden on case of a young Nepali woman to illustrate
families. This low-status, low investment, the elements of crime and violence involved
vicious cycle leaves women and girls with in trafficking, and the role that social
limited economic options, increases their institutions such as the household, family,
vulnerability to highly exploitative forms of community, market, and state may play in
labour, and leads them to take exceptional violating the rights of women and girls.
risks. 'In some countries where discrim- They provide examples of human rights
ination against female children is more violations during the three stages of
pronounced, daughters are made to feel trafficking - recruitment, work, and rescue.
their financial obligation to the family.' Mike Dottridge demonstrates the way in
(CATW 1995, 12) Limited access to which the common practice in West and
education and information for girls and Central Africa of sending children to
women in many societies can make them wealthier relatives in cities and other
easy prey for the duplicity of traffickers. countries is being distorted by poverty.

Girls are more at risk of being trafficked for Asia Pacific, for example, sees trafficking in
domestic service because they are women and children as a gender issue and
considered more obedient and suited for a serious form of violence against women.
this type of work. Dotteridge concludes by Economic empowerment of women is seen
reflecting that if the majority of trafficked as a key factor for anti-trafficking strategies
children were boys, rather than girls, more in origin and resettlement countries. In
attention would be paid to the problem. conjunction with USAID, UNIFEM is
Susanne Mikhael outlines the ways in implementing an anti-trafficking initiative
which cultural constructions of gender in the Mekong sub-region (UNIFEM East
roles in the Middle East and North Africa and South-East Asia 2001 ).2
can lead to disadvantage and potentially Ann Jordan points out that in the
adverse impacts on the survival, livelihood context of the new UN Protocol, which is
opportunities, and choices of children. very weak on protection of victims, there
Mikhael points to certain similarities are opportunities for advocates to influence
between child marriage and prostitution, the process of adopting domestic anti-
areas of exploitation usually considered as trafficking legislation in signatory countries.
being very different. She describes how Currently, most have inappropriate or
these practices, in different ways, violate inadequate laws and policies providing
the rights of children and perpetuate the some protection to victims or none at all.
exercise of ownership rights over She cautions that conflating trafficking with
individuals for the purposes of exploiting undocumented migrations risks leading to
their sexuality or labour. She highlights the the prosecution of victims while traffickers
ways in which the cultural context escape.
underpinning these practices does not For the most part, victim protection has
provide girls with the protection they been prioritised only when victims assist in
require as children, and to which they have prosecutions. As Elaine Pearson points out
internationally-agreed rights. in this collection, in the case of trafficked
women in Western Europe, the kinds of
measures undertaken by law enforcement
Response strategies officials in Europe can increase some
Trafficking and slavery have a multi- women's vulnerability to discrimination
faceted nature involving illegal migration, and violations of their rights. Providing
violence, violations of human rights and victims with temporary rights to stay in the
labour standards, poverty, and gender country of destination with access to
discrimination. Institutional responses to services such as housing, medical and legal
trafficking and slavery reflect this variety of services, counselling, language and
concerns and are largely influenced by integration courses, financial assistance,
political considerations, organisational and in some countries the right to work, for
culture and interests, the different ways of the purpose of giving testimony, rewards
viewing the problem and the solutions, and those willing to testify and penalises those
country-specific factors such as the who are not.
existence or non-existence of anti- Women returning home after having
trafficking legal frameworks and the been trafficked may be shunned by their
resources to provide for basic needs and families and communities because of
protection. punitive attitudes towards women's
The United Nations (UN) and other sexuality in countries of origin. In some
Inter-Governmental Organisations (IGOs) countries they are detained, forced to
have dedicated substantial resources to undergo compulsory medical tests, and
develop more effective solutions. UNIFEM- have their identities exposed in the media.
The various needs of those who survive characterise trafficking. Jana et al. present
an experience of trafficking range from the initiatives of an HIV prevention and
protection and legal assistance to intervention organisation working in
psychological counselling, financial Bangladesh and India whose work includes
assistance, and shelter. Jana et al. and outreach work with and practical support
Poudel and Smyth show how trafficking for sex workers, and political initiatives to
creates additional hardships for women uphold the rights of this marginalised
including sexual exploitation and other group. Herzfeld cites an example of Anti-
forms of gender-based violence and Slavery International's work that includes
discrimination, requiring gender- raising awareness of the harm of bonded
responsive interventions. labour and using child labour, and has had
Because of their illegal status, many some significant results. Poudel and Smyth
trafficked people fear and distrust state-run discuss Oxfam's anti-trafficking programme
organisations. For this reason, and because in Asia, which is rooted in a poverty
the majority of trafficked people are reduction and rights-based framework.
women, human rights and women's Tackling the roots of poverty and
organisations have often been their first oppression means looking not only at
port of call. These organisations have also material poverty and need, but also at the
been very active in raising awareness, poverty of rights and entitlements. This is
lobbying for change, and providing consistent with a commitment to the
assistance and support services for victims. empowerment of women and to their
Marina Tzvetkova argues that despite the agency in achieving human rights and
high profile of gender issues within the overcoming inequality and oppression. A
development and human rights sector, rights-based poverty strategy tackles the
some well-meaning organisations treat causes of inequality, in which trafficking
trafficked men and women as passive and slavery are rooted, and works with
victims incapable of making reasoned local, national, and international agents to
judgments, and needing to be rescued and achieve changes in families and
rehabilitated. Jordan and Jana et al. argue communities and the national and
that in reality, trafficked people may be international legal and policy agendas.
strong, risk-taking individuals who have Whilst this collection demonstrates the
made rational choices and exercised their variety of perspectives and strategies
own agency in deciding to migrate. towards trafficking in people and slavery-
Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) like practices, there is a common thread. It
have initiated a variety of assistance is clear that the Trafficking Protocol and
programmes for trafficking victims, other international instruments that deal
survivors, and those at risk at local, with the various elements of trafficking
national, and international levels. and slavery need to work. Those who
Tzvetkova provides an overview of this legislate or intervene on behalf of victims,
NGO activity around the world, survivors, and those at risk also need to
particularly that against trafficking in incorporate human rights considerations
women for sexual exploitation. and initiatives to eliminate gender
Wennerholm highlights the anti-trafficking discrimination into their work if these
strategies undertaken by Kvinnoforum, a practices are to end.
Swedish NGO that focuses on research,
information provision, and networking to Suzanne Williams is a Policy Adviser at Oxfam
raise awareness of the complexity and GB, 274 Banbury Road, Oxford 0X2 7DZ.
serious violations of human rights that E-mail: uk

Notes References
1 In this article, the terms 'prostitution' Coalition Against Trafficking in Women -
and 'sex work' are used interchangeably. Asia Pacific (CATW) (1995) Trafficking in
2 Personal communication with Lorraine Women and Prostitution in the Asia Pacific,
Corner, Regional Economic Adviser, Manila: CATW
UNIFEM Asia Pacific and Arab States, 6 Human Rights Web (1997) 'Universal
February 2002. Declaration of Human Rights',
http:/ /
(last checked January 2002)
International Organization for Migration
(IOM) (2001), 'New global figures on the
global scale of trafficking' in Trafficking
in Migrants Quarterly Bulletin 23: April
2001, special issue,
http:/ / /documents/
publications/en/tm_23.pdf (last checked
February 2002)
Leggett, I. (2001) Uganda: An Oxfam Country
Profile, Oxford: Oxfam GB
UNIFEM East and South-East Asia (2001)
'Trafficking in Women and Children:
Mekong Sub-Region',
http:/ /
Resources/Traffick2.html (last checked
January 2002)
United Nations Office for Drug Control
and Crime Prevention (UNODCCP)
(2000) 'The Protocol to Prevent, Suppress
and Punish Trafficking in Persons',
http:/ / /trafficking_protocol.
html (last checked February 2002)

Crossing borders and

building bridges:
the Baltic Region Networking Project
Carolina Johansson Wennerholm
'16 year old Lithuanian girl found dead on a highway outside Malmo in southern Sweden.'
She committed suicide after escaping from an apartment where she earned her living selling sexual
services. 'Czech girls kept as sex slaves at a hotel outside Stockholm calling their mothers for help.'
Headlines like this concerning the trafficking of women and girls occur in many countries of the
world every day. Some trafficked women are seeking to improve their lives or feed their children,
while others have been abducted and forced into 'slave' labour. Occurrences of violence and human
rights violations are common. This article gives an overview of the reasons for, and mechanics of,
trafficking.1 It also highlights the anti-trafficking approaches and activities undertaken by the
Swedish NGO Kvinnoforum in partnership with five NGOs in the Baltic Sea and Nordic Region.
These projects address trafficking through research, information, and networking to create awareness
of the complexity of trafficking, and the serious human rights violations that it involves.

rafficking of women has been a forced labour, and slavery-like practices, or

T feminist issue since the beginning of

the 20th century when advocates for
change like Josephine Butler fought against
the removal of organs.2

A global phenomenon
the 'white slave trade'. They recognised
that women and girls have been the Global political and economic processes
majority of all victims of trafficking. It is and developments influence trafficking.
only recently that the magnitude and Economic crises and disparities between
complexity of trafficking has increased its countries fuel supply, while demand for
importance on the international agenda. cheap labour attracts desperate migrants.
This process has been assisted by a Economic liberalisation relaxes controls and
widening of focus to encompass trafficking opens borders between countries, facilitating
for bonded labour in sweatshops, domestic population mobility. Conflict, transnational
work, adoption, and marriage, in addition crime, and political transitions and upheavals
to trafficking for prostitution. are also contributory factors.
The definition of trafficking in human The International Organisation for
beings has been hotly debated amongst the Migration has estimated that between
anti-trafficking movement. The debate 700,000 and two million women are trafficked
reflects many differing approaches or foci. across international borders annually (IOM
However, in December 2000 the UN 2001). Accurate numbers are difficult to
adopted a definition which covered the ascertain for various reasons. Firstly, the
diversity of means and mechanics used, the definition of trafficking is contested.
issue of violence and abuse of power for Secondly, the criminal nature of the problem
purposes of exploitation, as well as the has consequences for what is measured and
many purposes for trafficking - including how. Thirdly, it has not been a priority in
exploitation of others through prostitution, many countries to make the problem visible.
Crossing borders and building bridges 11

Trafficking occurs both within domestic America also arrive in Western European
borders, and across countries, regions, and destinations. These women are usually
continents. Countries of origin, transit, and involved in the sex business, and sometimes
destination are intertwined and overlap. in domestic work. The international
A single country may export women, girls, presence in the Balkans as a result of the
and boys abroad, may temporarily harbour war there has led to an increase in the
arrivals from other countries, and act as the demand for sex services within these
destination country for others. countries, and an increase in the trafficking
In South and East Asia, trafficked of women into countries such as Kosovo.
persons originate mainly from Thailand, Children are also trafficked into and within
China, the Philippines, Burma/Myanmar, Western Europe, such as Albanian children
Vietnam, Cambodia, Bangladesh, and to Greece and Italy for begging and drug-
Nepal. Transit and destination countries dealing (UNICEF 2000 in Swedish Ministry
include Thailand, Malaysia, Japan, India, for Foreign Affairs 2001).
and Pakistan. While the provision of The USA is a major destination country,
workers for the sex industry is the main particularly for women and children from
purpose of this traffic, women from these South-East Asia, Latin America, and
regions are also trafficked for domestic increasingly from FSU countries. While
work and other forms of bonded labour. again the main purposes are the sex
As a result of the burden of dowry, some industry and bonded labour, other
women are trafficked for marriage trafficking industries include mail-order
purposes. In some communities in India bride companies, maid schemes, domestic
and Nepal, commercial sexual services servants, and illicit foreign adoption
have religious and cultural links, increasing (O'Neill 1999). Canada is a receiving
the complexity of the problem (O'Neill country, as well as transit country for those
1999). Trafficking in children - girls and travelling to the USA (McDonald et al.
boys - for purposes of sexual exploitation, 2000).
adoption, begging and other forms of Latin America has a long tradition of
bonded labour, is mostly reported from trafficking. Countries of origin include
East, South-East, and South Asia (Swedish Dominican Republic, Colombia, Cuba,
Ministry for Foreign Affairs 2001). In Sri Mexico, Brazil, Ecuador, Surinam,
Lanka the majority of the children offering Venezuela, Uruguay, Peru, Argentina, and
sexual services are boys (O'Neill 1999). Paraguay. Destination countries include
Former Soviet Union (FSU) countries in mostly Western European countries, but
Central Asia are also origin countries. also Japan and the USA (STV 1996). The
Women from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyszstan, purposes include prostitution, domestic
and Tajikistan are trafficked to the Middle work, and marriage.
East, Turkey, Greece, and Ukraine (IOM There is growing concern over the
2001), often via Russia. increasing numbers of trafficked persons
Trafficking has increased dramatically within and from Africa, but as yet there is
in Europe since the fall of the Iron Curtain little data available. Countries of origin
in 1989. Most trafficked women come from include Ghana, Nigeria, Ethiopia, and Mali;
former communist countries such as destination countries include Nigeria, Cote
Russia, Ukraine, Albania, Kosovo, the Baltic d'lvoire, Western Europe, and Middle
States, the Czech Republic, and Poland, and Eastern countries - Lebanon, Libya,
are destined for Western European Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia - as well as the
countries (IOM 2001). However, women USA (IOM 2001). In Central and West Africa,
from South-East Asia, Africa, and Latin women may be trafficked as domestic

workers, and children for plantation work, and babysitters. In some cases, women
domestic work, and sex services. The answer advertisements for work in the EU,
Middle East receives women from Africa or trust 'friends of a friend' to arrange such
and Central Asia. Israel has received work. Women are told that all they need to
women from Russia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, do is sign a contract, and that the expenses
Moldova, Kazakhstan, Turkey, the of the trip are to be paid when they start
Dominican Republic, Brazil, and South earning. Upon arrival, however, some
Africa (Gruenpeter Gold et al. 2001). women find that the promised job does not
exist, and are forced to perform sexual
services or take part in pornographic films,
Exploring the causes of often in conditions of slavery.
trafficking Social constructions of gender relations
The causes of trafficking are complex, and sexuality facilitate trafficking for sexual
intertwined, and context-specific, with exploitation. Girls may feel a sense of duty
poverty and unequal gender relations as to repay their parents' care and protection.
key underlying root causes. The situation of In some poor rural households in South-
women and children in countries of origin, East Asia, remittances from daughters who
the profit motive, the ease with which have entered prostitution represent the
trafficking occurs, and the demand sole source of financial support (Lim 1998).
for women and children for different Girls sold into prostitution have sometimes
exploitative purposes are principal supply returned home with honour, because they
and demand factors. brought money, goods, and security to the
family (Belsey 1996, cited in Lim 1998, 13).
The situation of women, girls, and boys In some areas in South-East Asia,
in countries of origin prostitution is socially accepted as an
The socio-economic and cultural context inevitable evil 'necessary to satiate an
underpinning women and children's lives uncontainable male sexuality' (D'Cunha
determines their choices, strategies, and 1992, 36, cited in Lim 1998,12).
coping mechanisms. Women's unequal Psychological problems owing to
rights and access to formal labour, the unpleasant encounters and their social
restricted control they exercise over their impact can drive women away from home
own lives, and the gendered aspects of and into prostitution. In the Philippines,
poverty all lead women to seek work abroad. unmarried women who lose their virginity -
In middle and low-income countries, many some as a result of rape - enter prostitution
women face high unemployment, low believing it is what they deserve (Lim
wages, lack of child care, and a high 1998). Women who endure violence at
frequency of sexual harassment in the home or at work, who suffer from sexual
workplace as well as gender violence. Some harassment, or who were sexually abused
women opt to enter the prostitution as children, may enter prostitution, and
business, sometimes encouraged by their are often easy targets for traffickers
husbands. Others seek trafficking (Kvinnoforum 1999).
mechanisms for domestic, catering, or other Evidence from countries as diverse as
work, and end up in prostitution against Mali, the Baltic countries, Ukraine,
their will (Strandberg 1999). Moldova, and Thailand show that some
Traffickers can exploit women's desire girls and women enter prostitution or seek
to create a better life for themselves in other trafficking mechanisms longing for a more
countries by luring them with promises of materialistic life style or to participate in the
jobs as waitresses, maids, dancers, models, urban nightlife (MAHR 2000; Diakiti 1999).
Crossing borders and building bridges 13

Of those who migrate for sex work, few for most of the demand (ibid.). Thus, the
realise that at best they will keep only a expansion of attitudes and lifestyles where
small proportion of their earnings, and buying sex is acceptable are a key factor in
most are unaware that they will be locked the increased demand for women and
up, beaten, and have no control over the children in the sex business.
number and nature of services they will Trafficking has an ethnic dimension.
have to provide. Debt-bondage, violence, Minorities often experience difficulties in
threats, physical bondage, guilt, and the the formal labour market and may be
threat of harming their families, keep discriminated against. In Estonia and
women in compliance. Because they risk Latvia, ethnic Russians find it difficult to
arrest for prostitution or illegal immigration, find formal employment. As a result, there
women seldom seek help from the police. are large numbers of Russian women
A frequent inability to speak the local prostitutes in Riga and Tallinn. Similarly,
language makes these women additionally Thai and Sri Lankan children from the hill
vulnerable and powerless (Strandberg tribes are trafficked for sex exploitation
1999, 7). (Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs
In some cases, girls, boys, and women 2001). It has also been reported how
are kidnapped or abducted into the modern 'slave markets' in the Balkan
trafficking trade. In some regions, parents region contain women from a wide range
sell their children, and partners or relatives of ethnic origin whose value and marketing
sell women. depends largely on their skin colour, racial
characteristics, and the prevailing perception
Demand for services about what is 'exotic'.3
Increasing demand for commercial sexual
services in an expanding industry fuels Organised trafficking and profit
trafficking. The argument that addressing Trafficking is a lucrative business, and -
poverty would on its own inhibit unlike arms and drugs - trafficked women
trafficking is questionable. Where economic and children can be sold many times. The
growth has created an expanding middle UN estimates that the trafficking industry
class, for example in Indonesia, Malaysia, is worth US$5-7 billion annually (CATW
and the Philippines, the capacity and even 2001, 1). The main beneficiaries are the
the motivation for men to buy" sexual various actors involved in the trafficking
services has increased. This has expanded chain, and profits earned by pimps are
the industry to the extent where aspects often laundered.
like age, ethnicity and race, virginity, and The increase in criminal networks
sexual health are key considerations for dealing with trafficking has a direct link
customers and thus traffickers, with with the levels of profit, the ease with
increasing emphasis on trafficking younger which trafficking can be undertaken, and
persons who are less likely to have the low penalties for those caught (Europol
contracted HIV/AIDS and other STDs. 1999). In many cases, traffickers also deal in
Thus, to buy sexual services may in this drugs, arms, and animals. However, it is
context be seen as a lifestyle choice, safer to trade with human beings. It is
which adapts to economic circumstances relatively easy for traffickers to set up
(Lim 1998). undercover businesses such as model and
Although the growth of tourism has film agencies and marriage bureaux,
drawn an increasing number of women through which women and children are
and children to the sex industry in these contracted and traded. Women may also
countries, local people continue to account enter countries on a tourist visa or with a

false passport. Corruption among state Health effects

officials, police officers, migration staff, and Rape and other violence, drug use, and lack
others further facilitates the commerce of food and sleep are commonly
(Kvinnoforum 1999). experienced by the victims of trafficking.
Traffickers operate both within small- The consequences of these include trauma,
scale informal networks and as part of depression, and even suicide. Women and
well-organised international criminal children forced to sell sexual services
networks (Europol 1999). In Northern risk contracting STDs and HIV/AIDS.
Europe, Russian and Estonian women cross Trafficked sex workers, many working on
the border to Finland, Sweden, and the street, endure violent and unsafe sex as
Norway every weekend, sometimes a result of the fact that they have no
encouraged by husbands or other relatives. negotiating position, and are often illegal
Bus drivers, hotel and camp-site owners, immigrants. Sexual exploitation can lead to
and pimps all earn from this. The actors in post-traumatic stress disorders as well as
the trafficking chain may or may not know unwanted pregnancies and unsafe
each other. However, these informal abortions, the most common reason for
criminal networks may be as dangerous as maternal deaths among women
mafia groups. In small villages where worldwide. Trafficked women and
everybody knows each other, threats and children also have limited or no access to
harassment can have a tremendous impact healthcare services.
on women and children, keeping them in
compliance with the traffickers. The stigma Social effects
that women and girls who are trafficked Victims of trafficking transported to distant
fear or experience may inhibit their return or unfamiliar surroundings are vulnerable,
to their own communities if they escape.4 particularly if they do not speak the
language of the destination country. These
women and children become frightened
Measuring the impacts of and have difficulties building trust-based
trafficking social relationships. Many feel that they
will be stigmatised for the rest of their lives
The impacts of trafficking on societies and may not wish to return home, even if
require further research. Communities they could. The children born to women in
where trafficking is frequent lose young, trafficking circumstances may be adopted,
productive women. Where these women placed in orphanages, or abandoned.
return, they may in turn become traffickers
themselves. Negative socialisation may also Legal effects
become a major problem for abused Trafficked women and children often have
children. The costs of supporting rescued an illegal immigration status in destination
women and children, and of training and countries. Since legal frameworks relating
prosecuting traffickers are high. to trafficking and prostitution vary, victims
The impact of trafficking on victims, of trafficking are commonly deported
who often face unexpected harsh without adequate support, or imprisoned.
conditions, is better understood. For Law enforcement may trap the victim of
women and children trafficked into trafficking rather the trafficker.
prostitution, the effects on their
psychological, reproductive and sexual Economic effects
health, and well-being can be devastating. Many women undergo trafficking in order
to improve their own and their family's
economic situation. Where women succeed
Crossing borders and building bridges 15

in remitting some income to their family, against trafficking, with the aim of finding
this encourages the sale of other women or what kinds of activities were being
children to the traffickers. However, in far undertaken, and what the needs of
too many instances women and children trafficked women were, within the Nordic
become indebted to the traffickers and have and Baltic States, Russia, and Belarus.6
to work for years to pay back unforeseen The results of a questionnaire sent to
'contract costs'. NGOs, researchers, and government
organisations, and interviews held with
key informants indicated the following:
Kvinnoforum: the
"Crossing Borders and a lack of awareness of trafficking in the
Nordic region, despite the existence of
Building Bridges' large numbers of women and children
networking project in the experiencing trafficking-related human
Baltic Region5 rights violations;
a limited capacity to address trafficking,
Since the break up of the FSU there has
with few NGO or government actors
been a dramatic increase in the numbers of
undertaking this work;
women travelling to Sweden from the
discrepancies and contested views on
neighbouring eastern Baltic countries. The
the problem and solutions;
worsening economic situation in these
countries, and its gendered impact, is a a need for sharing information and
contributory factor. Many women are experiences as well as networking and
attracted by employment opportunities in co-operation;
richer neighbouring countries. While some an increasing interest in trafficking issues
access 'normal' jobs, others are lured or and their incorporation into NGO work.
forced by traffickers into the sex business.
Until recently there was little awareness Objectives and methodology
of the dimensions and mechanisms of
Informed by the findings, Kvinnoforum has
trafficking in Scandinavian and Baltic
continued its work against trafficking in the
countries. Trafficking was regarded as a
Baltic Region with a series of projects and
particularly Southern phenomenon. The
activities. The overall objectives are:
increasing visibility of foreign prostitutes
reported on the streets of Scandinavian to learn more about, and raise awareness
cities in the last decade demonstrated to of, the many dimensions of trafficking in
Scandinavian countries that they too had women and children;
become part of the trafficking trade, with to invite new actors and build a national
police and politicians becoming alarmed at and regional network around the Baltic
the increasing trafficking of women and Sea across organisational, geographical,
girls into a region that prided itself as one and ideological borders;
of the most gender equal in the world. to develop strategies and specific
The Swedish NGO Kvinnoforum, which activities to counteract trafficking and
works with disadvantaged women, was support victims, and to bridge the gap
alarmed by the increase in this particular between differing ideological positions
manifestation of gender inequality. on trafficking.
Kvinnoforum mobilised NGO resources to Kvinnoforum employs three analytical
cater for the needs of these women and to approaches to understanding trafficking:
publicise their plight. It conducted a a gender perspective, a human rights
survey of organisations actively working perspective, and a diversity perspective.

Gender perspective governments, can collaborate as part of a

Understanding the supply and demand network despite ideological differences.
aspects of trafficking is an important part At the regional level, Kvinnoforum
of the identification of solutions. A gender collaborates with NGOs from five Baltic
perspective is a useful analytical tool for nations incorporating very different
understanding why women, girls, and boys languages, cultures, and socio-economic
voluntarily seek or are easily lured into circumstances. Each NGO also focuses on
trafficking, and why there is a market and different aspects of the problem: street
demand for it. Trafficking in women, girls, work with women in prostitution,
and boys is viewed as an outcome of HIV/AIDS prevention, academic research,
unequal gender relations in both origin and development of social work, intercultural
destination countries. A gender analysis support for women with foreign
highlights the differences among women backgrounds, and strategies for women's
and between men and women in terms of empowerment. Locally, diverse actors such
needs, capabilities, vulnerabilities, and as the police, social workers, politicians,
strategies, and a gender-aware approach is researchers, and NGO activists have
part of a multifaceted approach which can attended strategy workshops to discuss
help us to address this complex problem at trafficking and propose measures against it.
global and local levels.

Human rights perspective Information sharing and

The human rights perspective focuses on networking
the violation of the individual's rights to Following the initial research, Kvinnoforum
freedom, health, development, absence of initiated partnerships with the Latvian
violence, and so on, and distinguishes Gender Problem Centre and Monika, the
trafficking from smuggling and illegal Multicultural Women's Association in
migration. It implies a shift to supporting Finland.8 Three persons from each of the
victims of trafficking instead of labelling three organisations travelled to the Baltic
them as criminals. It provides a broad and and Nordic states to meet with NGOs,
common platform for contesting views and government representatives, and the media,
approaches to trafficking and prostitution,7 to disseminate and gather information on
and can access legislation, including regional trafficking in women and girls.
International Human Rights Instruments,
in many cases. Publication of a resource book on
trafficking in women and girls
Diversity perspective This project identified 80 organisations
The diversity approach is closely linked to working, or interested in working, against
the gender perspective, recognising the trafficking in the Baltic Region. Trafficking
heterogeneity of women and men and their in Women and Girls in the Baltic Sea
different needs, vulnerabilities, capacities, Region, A Resource Book was published in
and coping strategies. Diversity implies 1999. It includes articles, printed and
openness to social difference, which on-line references, websites for networks
promotes tolerance and is therefore an and organisations, and information on all
important methodological bridging 80 organisations. It thus provides useful
approach for a highly contested issue such information for cross-border anti-
as anti-trafficking work. trafficking work.
Diversity has in practice meant that an
array of organisations, such as NGOs and
Crossing borders and building bridges 17

Local, regional, and global networking The network services include keeping the
Following this, Kvinnoforum expanded the members informed via e-mail about relevant
collaboration to include NGOs in Finland, news, reports, upcoming events, and
Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Denmark, and activities.10
Sweden. These NGOs have conducted
training workshops in their respective
countries for central actors working against
Conclusions and next steps
trafficking. The workshops have helped to The human rights of trafficked women and
create national networks against trafficking girls are violated in many ways. Trafficking
in each of the countries. An advantage of in women is a complex issue linked to
working in partnership is that there is more development, poverty, health, and gender
than one 'owner' of the project and its aim, inequality that demands multifaceted
thus enhancing the credibility and responses. It is a contested problem, both in
sustainability of the work. 9 As a joint terms of its definition and in the attempts
activity, the network will update the to formulate appropriate response
Resource Book. strategies. The present paper has given an
Each organisation further undertakes overview of trafficking, highlighting its
separate projects in its respective country. complexity, the various actors, its causes
The Gender Problem Centre in Latvia runs and consequences, and the international
a shelter for returning women and is also statements condemning it.
involved in preventive work among Kvinnoforum and its partners aim to
adolescents. The AIDS Prevention and strengthen the network at national,
Information Centre in Estonia provides regional, and global levels. The
reproductive health services and Kvinnoforum projects and activities have
information to women in prostitution. In contributed to an enhanced awareness on
Lithuania, PRAEITIES PEDOS has trafficking in the Baltic Sea Region. There
published a book and a film on trafficking. are now more anti-trafficking actors than
In Finland, Monika has initiated a hotline there were in 1997, but there are not
for foreign women experiencing problems enough, and there is a need for more
of violence. In Sweden, Kvinnoforum gives concrete activities to prevent trafficking
lectures and discusses training with the and to support its victims. Finally, if we are
police and migration services. These to achieve long-term and sustainable
projects represent a regional network of change, anti-trafficking work must be
more than 250 members involved with or framed in a gendered development
interested in anti-trafficking activities, as perspective.
well as national networks in each of the six
participating countries. Carolina Johansson Wennerholm, Kvinnoforum,
Tomtebogatan 42, 113 38 Stockholm, Sweden.
An internet resource base Tel: + 468 56 22 88 00; fax: + 468 56 22 88 50
The project website provides contact details E-mail:
for organisations, as well as references, http:/ /
on-line material, and relevant links.
Kvinnoforum and its collaborating partners
are frequently invited to hold lectures, and
to provide information and advice. The
information gathered for the Resource Book 1 The overview part of this article is a
was also presented on a project web-site, shortened version of the background
http:/ / paper 'Trafficking in Women and

Children, an Overview' prepared for the in Denmark, the AIDS information and
UNFPA, 2001, and published with Support Centre AIDSI TUGIKESKUS in
UNFPA's permission. Estonia, the Latvian Gender Problem
2 Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Centre, Latvia, and the Lithuanian
Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women's NGO PRAEITIES PEDOS,
Women and Children Supplementing Lithuania.
the United Nations Convention against 6 The study was funded by the Swedish
Transnational Organized Crime, Article 3: Minstry for Foreign Affairs.
'Trafficking in persons shall mean the 7 Although trafficking occurs for domestic
recruitment, transportation, transfer, work, bounded labour in sweatshops,
harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of adoption, organ trafficking, marriage,
the threat or use of force or other form of and other purposes, the most common
coercion, of abduction, offraud,of deception, purpose is for the sex business. Thus the
of the abuse of power or of a position of international debate related to
vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of prostitution has considerable impact on
payment or benefits to achieve the consent of the general trafficking debate. The
a person having control over another person, abolitionist view sees prostitution as an
for the purpose of exploitation. Exploitation
expression of violence and works to end
shall include, at a minimum, the exploitation
it. At the other end of the spectrum, the
of the prostitution of others or other forms of
Sex Workers Rights movement does not
sexual exploitation, forced labour or services,
see prostitution per se as a problem, but
slavery or practices similar to slavery,
rather the violence within the industry,
servitude or the removal of organs;
and it aims to ensure that sex workers
b) The consent of a victim in person to the have legal rights as any other working
intended exploitation set forth in group. Although both coalitions agree
subparagraphs (a) of this article shall be that trafficking must be addressed
irrelevant where any of the means set forth internationally, they do not co-operate,
in subparagraph (a) have been used; as their different ideological positions
c) The recruitment, transportation, transfer, entail that discussions tend to end in
harbouring or receipt of a child for the opposing definitions (Strandberg 1999).
purpose of exploitation shall be considered
"trafficking in persons", even if this does not8 The project 'Crossing Borders Against
involve any of the means set forth in sub Trafficking' was carried out in 1998-9
paragraph (a) of this article; with funding from the European
d) Child shall mean any person under Commission's Daphne Initiative and the
eighteen years of age.' Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs.
3 Reported by the Swedish NGO Kvinna 9 The project 'Training and Capacity
till Kvinna, which has extensive Building against Trafficking in Women and
experience of trafficking in the Balkan Girls in the Baltic Sea Region' was
Region. implemented during 1999-2000 with
4 Reported by the Estonian NGO AIDSI funding from the European
TUGIKESKUS and the Latvian NGO Commission's Daphne Initiative and the
Genders. Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs.
5 The networking project in the Baltic 10 The trafficking work is thus integrated
Region was initiated and run by in Q Web, an internet-based global
Kvinnoforum in partnership with network for women's health and
Monika, the Multicultural Women's empowerment run by Kvinnoforum. See
Association in Finland, the PRO-centre http:/ /
Crossing borders and building bridges 19

References Kvinnoforum (1999) Trafficking in Women

and Girls in the Baltic Sea Region, A
Coalition Against Trafficking in Women Resource Book, Stockholm: Kvinnoforum
(CATW) (2001) 'Guide to the New UN Lim, L.L. (ed.) (1998) The Sex Sector, The
Trafficking Protocol', North Amherst, Economic and Social Bases of Prostitution in
MA: CATW South-East Asia, Geneva: ILO
D'Cunha, J. (1992) 'Prostitution laws: Minnesota Advocates for Human Rights
ideological dimensions and enforcement (MAHR) (2000) 'Trafficking in Women:
practices', Economic and Political Weekly Moldova and Ukraine', Minneapolis:
(Bombay), 24 April, cited in L.L. Lim MAHR
(ed.) (1998) McDonald, L., B. Moore, and N.
Diakiti, F.S. (1999) 'Prostitution in Mali', in Timoshkina (2000) Migrant Sex Workers
D. Hughes and C. Roche (eds) (1999) from Eastern Europe and the Former Soviet
EUROPOL (1999) 'Trafficking in Human Union: The Canadian Case, Toronto:
Beings', General Situation Report, Open Centre for Applied Social Research,
version, File-No: 2565-35 rev. 1, The University of Toronto
Hague: EUROPOL O'Neill Richard, A. (1999) 'International
Foundation against Trafficking in Women Trafficking in Women to the United
(STV) (1996) 'International Report States: A Contemporary Manifestation of
Project on Trafficking in Women: Latin Slavery and Organized Crime',
America and Caribbean Region', Draft, Washington, DC: Centre for the Study of
August 31, Utrecht: STV Intelligence, http:/ /
Gruenpeter Gold, L., N.B. Ami, S. Rosen, monograph/ women / trafficking.pdf
and N. Levenkron (2001) 'National (last checked by author 5th May 2000)
NGOs Report to the Annual UN Strandberg, N. (1999) 'What is trafficking
Commission on Human Rights: and what can be done?', in Kvinnoforum
Evaluation of National Authorities (1999), http://www.qweb.kvinnoforum.
Activities and Actual facts on the se/papers/tic-whatistrafficking.html
Trafficking in Persons for the Purpose of (last checked by author 11th January
Prostitution in Israel', on behalf of 2002)
Awareness Center and Hotline for
Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs (2001)
Foreign Workers, March, Tel Aviv
'Trafficking in Women and Children in
Hughes, D. and J. Raymond (2001) Sex Asia and Europe, a Background
Trafficking of Women in the United States, Presentation of the Problems Involved
International and Domestic Trends, and the Initiatives Taken', Stockholm:
Kingston, Rhode Island: CATW Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs
Hughes, D. and C. Roche (eds) (1999) Global United Nations Office for Drug Control
Sexual Exploitation of Women and Girls, And Crime Prevention (UNODCCP)
Speaking Out and Providing Services, 'Trafficking in Person: the New Protocol',
Kingston, Rhode Island: CATW http: / / www.odccp.or/ trafficking_proto
International Organisation for Migration col_backround.html (last checked by
(IOM) (2001) Quarterly Bulletin 23 author 28th May 2001)

Who gets to choose?

Coercion, consent, and the UN
Trafficking Protocol
Jo Doezema
This article explores the difficulties around using the notion of consent to define 'trafficking in
women'. It does this through an examination of the recent negotiations around the UN Trafficking
Protocol. 'Consent' was a highly contentious topic at the negotiations. One feminist lobby group
argued that all prostitution, regardless of consent, should be considered trajficking. Another feminist
lobby group insisted that coercion was a necessary element to any definition of trafficking.
Government delegations tended to one or other of these positions. The final document attempts to
compromise between these positions, with both lobby groups claiming victory for their position. This
article looks at the arguments behind the interpretation of 'consent' in the negotiations, placing
them in the historical context of early 20th century campaigns against white slavery. It suggests
that views offemale sexuality that see women as both more virtuous and more dangerous than men
influence both historical and contemporary campaigns. It argues that current notions of 'consent',
reflected in the ambiguity of the Protocol, are inadequate to serve as the basis for political strategies
to protect the rights of sex workers and migrants.

In December 2000, over 80 countries against sex workers, migrant sex workers,
signed the Protocol to Suppress, Prevent and immigrants.J Several activists from the
and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Network of Sex Work Projects (NSWP)
Especially Women and Children (The joined the Human Rights Caucus in their
Trafficking Protocol) in Palermo, Italy. This lobby efforts, in the hope of ensuring a
event was the culmination of over two result that would not damage sex workers'
years of negotiations at the UN Centre for human rights. This paper reviews the
International Crime Prevention in Vienna. arguments made by both lobby groups at
The Trafficking Protocol was the target of the negotiations. It focuses in particular on
heavy feminist lobbying. These lobby how trafficking came to be defined, and the
efforts were split into two 'camps' pivotal role played by the notion of
espousing differing views on prostitution. 'consent'. It examines how 'consent'
One group, the Human Rights Caucus, emerged as the international standard for
viewed prostitution as legitimate labour. determining 'trafficking in women', placing
The other, represented by the Coalition current debates in historical context.
Against Trafficking in Women (CATW), Finally, it assesses the potential for the
considered all forms of prostitution to be a Trafficking Protocol to be used to promote
violation of women's human rights. sex workers' and migrants' human rights.
Sex worker rights activists including
myself were concerned about the impact of
a new international trafficking instrument
on the lives of sex workers. Historically,
anti-trafficking measures have been used
Coercion, consent, and the UN Trafficking Protocol 21

Consent or coercion: Other governments opposed the

negotiating the definition attempts to define trafficking in women
and children as essentially the same. Their
of trafficking position was endorsed by the Human
In Vienna, the differences between the Rights Caucus, who stated:
lobby groups became most apparent 'Obviously, by definition, no one consents to
during the most controversial part of the abduction or forced labour, but an adult
Protocol negotiations: deciding just how woman is able to consent to engage in an
'trafficking in persons' should be defined. illicit activity (such as prostitution, where
CATW's lobby group argued that this is illegal or illegal for migrants). If no
'trafficking' should include all forms of one is forcing her to engage in such an
recruitment and transportation for activity, then trafficking does not exist....
prostitution, regardless of whether any The Protocol should distinguish between
force or deception took place (CATW 1999). adults, especially women, and children. It
This is in line with their view of should also avoid adopting a patronizing
prostitution per se as a violation of women's stance that reduces women to the level of
human rights. The Human Rights Caucus, children, in the name of 'protecting' women.
who supported the view of prostitution as Such a stance historically has 'protected'
work, argued that force or deception was a women from the ability to exercise their
necessary condition in the definition of rights.' (Human Rights Caucus 1999, 5)
trafficking for sex work and for other types
of labour. They also maintained that The argument that sex work is inherently a
trafficking for prostitution should not be human rights violation, and thus cannot be
treated as a different category to other consented to, is one that I disagree with.
other types of labour. This was based on But it is not my intention in this paper to
the recognition that men, women, and repeat the arguments for treating sex work
children are trafficked for a large variety of as a legitimate profession.2 Rather, I want
services, including sweatshop labour and to focus on the harmful political
agriculture (Human Rights Caucus 1999), consequences of arguing that coercion
as well as fear of the potentially repressive (including deception) is not an essential
consequences of attemps to turn the part of any definition of trafficking. The
Protocol into an anti-prostitution document. argument that women cannot consent to
These two positions ended up revolving commercial sexual interactions coincides all
around the notion of 'consent'. Several too easily with anti-feminist ideas about
government delegations, backed by female sexuality, and particularly with that
CATW's lobby group, argued that the of the threat of women's sexual autonomy.3
definition of trafficking specifically had to It also can be used to give what are
include situations in which a person both basically anti-immigrant prejudices and
consented to travel and consented to do sex policies a more palatable gloss, borrowing
work, even if no force or deception was terms from human rights and feminist
involved. This position has at its root the argumentation.
assumption that a woman's consent to
undertake sex work is meaningless. This
definition of trafficking differed little from
Consensual history
the proposed definition of trafficking in Historically, efforts to combat trafficking
children: in this view, neither women or have ended up justifying repressive
children can be said to 'consent' to travel measures against prostitutes themselves in
for work in the sex industry. the name of 'protection' for women and

children. Modern debates around the 'necessary evil' of prostitution should be

relationship of consent to 'trafficking in controlled by stringent state regulations.
women' have a long history. At the Dr. Parent-Duchatelet, whose 1836 study of
beginning of the last century, there was a French prostitutes was a model for
great public outcry against 'white slavery' regulationists, wrote: 'Prostitutes are as
in Europe and America. 'White slavery' inevitable in a great conurbation as sewers,
referred to the abduction and transport of cesspits and refuse dumps. The conduct of
white women for prostitution.4 In a manner the authorities should be the same with
similar to today's campaigns, the issue was regard to each.' (in Roberts 1992, 223)
covered widely in newspapers, a number Harnessing rational scientific arguments to
of organisations were set up to combat it, moral disapproval, 'regulationists' argued
and national and international legislation that state regulation was the only way to
was adopted to stop the 'trade'. The control venereal disease. 'Innocent' women
international debates around 'white and girls needed protection from immorality;
slavery' were highly concerned with the however, once fallen, it was society that
issue of consent. Many campaigners needed protecting from the immoral
against the white slave trade saw all woman. The best way to protect society,
prostitutes as victims in need of rescue; argued regulationists, was to register and
others argued for the importance of medically control prostitutes.
distinguishing the 'willing' prostitute from Other campaigners, particularly
the victimised white slave. women's rights activists, made little
The distinction between 'white slaves' distinction between 'white slavery' and
and willing prostitutes was maintained by prostitution itself. These early feminists'
campaigners of differing ideological bent. attempts to break down the distinction
On the one hand were so-called 'purity' between 'innocent' victims and 'immoral'
campaigners, who aimed to rid society of prostitutes started with Josephine Butler's
'vice' and who focused in particular on campaign against the regulation of
youthful sexuality. For example, the US prostitution through the Contagious
District Attorney Edwin W. Sims wrote in Diseases Acts in Great Britain. Under these
the preface to the influential 1910 tract, Acts, any woman who was suspected of
Fighting the Traffic in Young Girls or War on prostitution could be detained by the
the White Slave Trade, 'The characteristic police and forced to undergo an internal
which distinguishes the white slave traffic examination. Butler and other 'abolitionists'
from immorality [prostitution] in general is argued that men were responsible for
that the women who are the victims of the prostitution, placing the blame for
traffic are forced unwillingly to live an prostitution squarely on the shoulders of
immoral life. The term "white slave" unbridled male lust. No women could be
includes only those women and girls who said to truly consent to prostitution: if a
are actually slaves.' (Sims 1910, 14) 'Purity' woman appeared 'willing', this was merely
reformers' relationships with prostitutes the result of the power that men held over
themselves were ambiguous: while her. By turning all prostitutes into victims,
professing sympathy for the lost innocents Butlerite feminists undercut the rationale
sacrificed by white slavers, they were for regulationist systems. When the
severe in their judgement of girls and Contagious Diseases Acts were repealed in
women whose immodest behaviour led 1886, Butler and her followers turned their
them into a life of shame. attention to the fight against 'white
On the other hand were the so-called slavery'. In the abolitionist vision,
'regulationists', who believed that the prostitution and white slavery would come
Coercion, consent, and the UN Trafficking Protocol 23

to an end if laws targeted those who made According to Addams, these moral
money from prostitutes, rather than the failings made young working-class and
prostitute herself. No woman would enter immigrant girls 'easy prey' for white
prostition of her own accord, they slavers. Certainly, belief in these girls'
reasoned: with no one to lure or deceive innate moral weakness made them the
her, woman's innate moral superiority ideal target of the reforming impulses of
would ensure her purity. In this, feminist middle-class feminists.
abolitionists shared a view of women's
sexuality that was common to all the
various anti-white slavery campaigners. The consequences of
Women were considered sexually passive, denying consent
which made them more 'virtuous' than
The first international agreement
men, but, paradoxically, once that virtue
against 'white slavery' was drafted in 1902
was 'lost' through illicit sexual behaviour,
women's sexual nature became dangerous. in Paris and signed in 1904 by 16 states.
Consequently, calls for the need to protect Largely due to the input of regulationist
women's purity alternated with attempts to countries such as France, the International
reform and discipline prostitutes. Agreement for the Suppression of the
White Slave Trade did not equate 'white
Feminist abolitionists displayed a slavery' with 'prostitution'. The agreement
curious mixture of a progressive refusal to only addresses the fraudulent or abusive
condemn prostitutes, and a moralistic, recruitment of women for prostitution in
middle-class urge to protect the virtue of another country. In 1910, a new agreement
young, working class, and immigrant broadened the scope of the crime to include
women. This ambiguity is clearly recruitment for prostitution within national
illustrated in the work of the notable US boundaries. Both of these conventions were
feminist campaigner, Jane Addams. In her limited to the traffic in 'unwilling' women,
book on 'white slavery', A New Conscience
and covered only recruitment, not conditions
and an Ancient Evil, Addams argues
in prostitution workplaces.5 It was not until
forcefully against police harassment of
1933 that an international agreement was
prostitutes and for improved wages for
drafted that reflected the abolitionist
working women. While she relates with
position. The International Convention for
heart-rending pathos the stories of poor
girls whose only hope of feeding their the Suppression of the Traffic in Women
families is by giving in to the condemned all recruitment for prostitution
blandishments of 'white slavers', she is in another country. It obliges states to
scornful and dismissive of those girls who punish 'any person who, in order to gratify
would contemplate selling their virtue in the passions of another person, procures,
slightly less desperate circumstances: entices or leads away, even with her consent,
a woman or a girl of full age for immoral
'Although economic pressure as a reason for purposes to be carried out in another
entering an illicit life has thus been brought country' (in Wijers and Lap-Chew 1997,
out in court by the evidence in a surprising emphasis added).6
number of cases, there is no doubt that it is
often exaggerated; a girl always prefers to If it took until 1933 for the abolitionist
think that economic pressure is the reason position to become encoded in inter-
for her downfall, even when the immediate national law, abolitionist influence on
causes have been her love of pleasure, her national legislation in several countries was
desire for finery, or the influence of evil much more marked. Throughout Europe
companions.' (Addams 1912, 60) and in the USA, anti-white slavery activists
were successful in their campaigns for

abolitionist laws aimed at protecting legal redress in cases of violations of their

prostitutes from 'white slavers', 'pimps', labour, civil, and human rights.
and 'profiteers'. These new laws neither If there is one lesson that we can learn
ended prostitution nor improved from history, it is that increased state
prostitutes' working conditions: rather, power to repress prostitution ends up
these laws were used against prostitutes being used against prostitutes themselves.
themselves. Thrown out of brothels and Has history repeated itself in the
red-light districts, prostitutes were forced Trafficking Protocol? The answer is not yet
into illegality, and arrests of prostitutes clear, but the Protocol has the potential to
actually increased. Prostitutes' husbands be used for repressive as well as for
and boyfriends were targeted as pimps, emancipatory ends. On the one hand, the
especially if they were black or 'foreign'. In final definition of trafficking in the Protocol
a famous case in the USA, the 1910 Mann can be considered a victory for those who
Act (The White Slave Traffic Act) was used argue that the only way to protect sex
to punish Jack Johnson, a black boxer, for workers' rights is to recognise prostitution
his marriage to a white woman.7 In Britain, as a legitimate profession. The use of force
the Criminal Law Amendment Bill of 1921 or coercion is included as an essential
(The White Slave Act) was used against element of trafficking in the definition. This
prostitutes and working class women is a significant departure from the
(Walkowitz 1980). Greece fought 'white abolitionist stance of the 1949 Convention,
slavery' by passing legislation in 1912 and leaves states free to recognise sex work
forbidding women under 21 to travel as labour and regulate it according to
abroad without a special permit (Bristow labour standards. On the other hand, while
1977,178). the Protocol makes an implicit distinction
between 'coerced' and 'non-coerced'
migration for prostitution, it offers very
Ambiguous standards little in terms of human rights protections
The legacy of abolitionism is still being felt for trafficking victims, and nothing at all
today. In international law, the abolitionist for (migrant) sex workers who were not
standards of the 1933 Convention were coerced. If the Protocol leaves the way free
reiterated in the 1949 UN Convention for for governments to treat sex work as
the Suppression of the Traffic in Persons labour, it also in no way prevents
and the Exploitation of the Prostitution of governments from persecuting, criminalising,
Others. In this agreement, prostitution is and denying equal protection of the law to
considered incompatible with the dignity sex workers in the name of fighting
of the person. Until the adoption of the 'trafficking'.
Trafficking Protocol, this was the only
international document to deal compre- Conclusion: beyond
hensively with trafficking and prostitution.
Though signed by few countries, the 1949 'trafficking'?
Convention served as a model for much Despite the potential of the Trafficking
domestic legislation. In a large number of Protocol to be used to protect (migrant) sex
countries, abolitionist laws are still on the workers' human rights, recent government
books: preventing prostitutes working actions seem to indicate that the repressive
together (lest one be arrested for pimping), potential of the Protocol will prevail. In a
blocking prostitutes' attempts at union- number of countries, anti-trafficking
forming (considered as unlawful 'promotion measures have led to restrictions on
of prostitution'), and barring them from movement and migration for women,
Coercion, consent, and the UN Trafficking Protocol 25

increased surveillance of sex workers, and have varying amounts of power as clients,
increased deportation of migrant sex sex workers, and associates. It would grant
workers. This point was made forcefully by Third World women the same degree of
Radhika Coomaraswamy, the UN Special self-awareness, autonomy, and agency that
Rapporteur on Violence Against Women, is taken as self-evident for Western women.
its Causes and Consequences, at a recent Most importantly, this new framework
conference.8 Arguing that 'trafficking' and may be able to move beyond the legacy of
'prostitution' should not be linked, she repression clinging to the trafficking
described how many Asian governments framework because it will be developed by
were responding to trafficking fears by sex workers themselves.
legislating to restrict women's freedom of
movement. Deportations of sex workers are Jo Doezema is studying for her doctoral thesis
commonplace. One recent example is in the at the Institute of Development Studies,
UK, where the police raided London University of Sussex, Brighton BN1 9RE, UK.
brothels, and migrant sex workers were Tel: +44 (0)1273 606 161 ext. 4153
deported. In the Netherlands, trafficking
fears have led to a law which requires all
sex workers to carry identification papers - Notes
the only occupational group for whom this 1 See NSWP 1999.
is required. 2 For discussions of prostitution as sex
The lessons from history about the work, see P. Alexander and F. Delacoste
repressive consequences of anti-trafficking (eds) (1987); G. Pheterson (ed.) (1989);
laws have led some activists to search for a W. Chapkis (1997); Bindman and
new way to conceptualise migration and Doezema (1997); J. Nagle (ed.) (1997);
prostitution. The contours of a framework Doezema (1998).
to replace that of trafficking have begun to 3 See Doezema 2001.
emerge, sketched out in discussions, 4 Historians who have studied the period
demands, and demonstrations from Delhi have almost all come to the conclusion
to Detroit by sex workers and those who that there were actually very few cases
support their agenda. This new framework of white slavery (see Connelly 1980;
would reject both the neo-abolitionist Grittner 1990; Guy 1991). There was,
position that would deny women the however, a large increase in migration
ability to consent to prostitution, and a neo- from Southern and Eastern Europe to the
regulationist perspective that condemns USA and Latin America. Many of those
'forced' prostitution but offers nothing in who migrated were prostitutes, who
the way of rights for the 'guilty', carried on working in their new lands.
'voluntary' prostitutes. This new While these women certainly enjoyed no
framework would incorporate elements of 'rights' as we would term them, neither
labour rights, insisting that sex workers be is there evidence that they were the sex
treated as legitimate workers, rather than slaves of popular myth. Historians such
as moral reprobates. It would challenge the as Grittner (1990) argue that 'white
mentality that demands that women bear slavery' was a 'cultural myth': a
responsibility for the moral guardianship of collective belief that simplifies reality
society. It would recognise that gender and that expresses deep societal fears
relations in the sex industry are not a and anxieties. 'White slavery' as a
simple matter of oppressed women and cultural myth stood for fears about
oppressive men, but that men, women, and immigration, racist anxieties, fears about
transgenders take up varying positions and industrialisation and urbanisation, and

about women's increasing independence. Rights, Resistance and Redefinition, New

For an examination of 'trafficking in York and London: Routledge
women' as a cultural myth, see Doezema Doezema, J. (2000) 'Loose women or lost
(2000). women? The re-emergence of the myth
5 See Wijers and Lap-Chew (1997) and of white slavery in contemporary
Haveman (1998). discourses of trafficking in women',
6 The abolitionist position continued to Gender Issues 18(1): 38-54
dominate international law until the Doezema, J. (2001) 'Ouch! Western
1980s, when a number of agreements feminists' "wounded attachment" to the
began to recognise a distinction between "third-world prostitute"', Feminist
'voluntary' and 'forced' prostitution. See Review 67:16-38
Doezema (1998). Grittner, F.K. (1990) White Slavery: Myth,
7 See Roberts (1986) for an account of the Ideology and American Law, New York
Jackson case. and London: Garland
8 'Prostitution, Trafficking and the Global Guy, D.J. (1991) Sex and Danger in Buenos
Sex Trade in Women', NYU Law School, Aires: Prostitution, Family and Nation in
March 2, 2001 Argentina, Lincoln and London:
University of Nebraska Press
Haveman, R. (1998) Voorwaarden voor
References Strafbaarstelling van Vrouwenhandel,
Addams, J. (1912) A New Conscience and an Doctoral Thesis, University of Utrecht,
Ancient Evil, New York: Macmillan Utrecht: Gouda Quint
Alexander, P. and F. Delacoste (eds) (1987) Human Rights Caucus (1999) 'Recommend-
Sex Work: Writings by Women in the Sex ations and Commentary on the Draft
Industry, Pittsburgh: Cleis Press Protocol to Combat International
Bindman, J. and J. Doezema (1997) Trafficking in Women and Children
Redefining Prostitution as Sex Work on the Supplementary to the Draft Convention
International Agenda, London: Anti- on Transnational Organised Crime',
Slavery International and the Network http:/ /
of Sex Work Projects programs/traffic (last checked by author
Bristow, E.J. (1977) Vice and Vigilance: December 2001)
Purity Movements in Britain since 1700, Nagle, J. (ed.) (1998) Whores and Other
Dublin: Gill and Macmillan Feminists, New York and London:
Coalition Against Trafficking in Women Routledge
(CATW) (1999) 'Prostitutes Work, But Network of Sex Work Projects (1999)
Do They Consent?', http:/ / 'Commentary On The Draft Protocol To
artsci/wms/hughes/catw (last checked Combat International Trafficking In
by author May 2001) Women And Children Supplementary
Chapkis, W. (1997) Live Sex Acts: Women To The Draft Convention On
Performing Erotic Labor, New York and Transnational Organized Crime'
London: Routledge (A/AC.254/4/add.3),
Connelly, M.T. (1980) The Response to http:/ /
Prostitution in the Progressive Era, Chapel (last checked by author December 2001)
Hill: University of North Carolina Press Pheterson, G. (ed.) (1989) A Vindication of
Doezema, J. (1998) 'Forced to choose: the Rights of Whores, Seattle: Seal Press
beyond the free v. forced prostitution Roberts, N. (1992) Whores in History:
dichotomy', in K. Kempadoo and Prostitution in Western Society, London:
J. Doezema (eds) Global Sex Workers: HarperCollins
Coercion, consent, and the UN Trafficking Protocol 27

Roberts, R. (1986) Papa Jack: Jack Johnson and

the Era of White Hopes, London: Robson
Walkowitz, J. (1980) Prostitution and
Victorian Society: Women, Class and the
State, Cambridge: CUP
Wijers, M. and L. Lap-Chew (1997)
Trafficking in Women, Forced Labour and
Slavery-Like Practices in Marriage,
Domestic Labour and Prostitution: Utrecht
and Bangkok: Foundation Against
Trafficking in Women (STV) and Global
Alliance Against Trafficking in Women

Human rights or wrongs?

The struggle for a rights-based response
to trafficking in human beings
Ann D. Jordan
A unique opportunity for non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and advocates to contribute to
the development of a human rights-based response to the trafficking of human beings now exists.
Many governments have signed a new international treaty on trafficking and are in the process of
adopting domestic anti-trafficking laws. However, as explained in this article, most government
officials are uninformed about the causes and consequences of trafficking, and the appropriate rights-
based legal responses. NGOs can bring their expertise and a human rights framework to the debate
by working with government officials to draft and implement new trafficking laws and policies. This
article offers a brief introduction and guidance to some of the challenges that NGOs will face in their
advocacy work

means that the burden of poverty and the

rafficking of human beings is the
movement of persons within or direct and indirect consequences of
across borders by any means (such as violence impact disproportionately on
force or fraud) into forced labour, slavery, women. This has resulted in an out-
or servitude. It has always existed; migration of women from poor countries
however, its phenomenal growth in the last and conflict areas, larger than any before.
quarter of the 20th century has caused alarm Many of these women are particularly
around the world. It is now a multi-billion vulnerable, and end up being trafficked.
dollar industry run by individuals and At the same time, the absolute or relative
small and large organised criminal prosperity and peace in industrialised and
networks. Although precise statistics do not newly industrialising countries act as 'pull'
exist, anecdotal evidence and studies factors in international migration. Growing
indicate that hundreds of thousands - if not economies create increased demand for
several millions - of people are trafficked imported labour as citizens increasingly
worldwide annually. Experts agree that a refuse to take low-paying jobs. Young
disproportionate number of trafficked women are in particular demand because
persons are women and girls. they are considered to be more compliant
This phenomenal growth has resulted and detail-oriented, and less likely to rebel
from the simultaneous existence of a against the conditions of forced labour.
number of push, pull, and facilitating Some young women are pulled into
factors. The push factors include the migration by the prospect of marriage and
increase in civil wars since the fall of Soviet a better life abroad. Some of these
Union, the collapse of the Chinese socialist marriages are arranged by unscrupulous
system, environmental damage, natural brokers, with women being trafficked into
disasters, violence in the family, and servile marriages.
uneven economic growth. Women's These push and pull factors lay the
unequal status in societies worldwide causal foundation for trafficking. In additon,
Human rights or wrongs? 29

there exist a number of facilitating factors trafficking and all persons.3 The new law is
that make trafficking possible. Growth in not perfect - some trafficked persons will
the industrialised economies has been not be protected - but it is better than most
accompanied by a quantum leap in low-cost other countries' laws at present.
transportation and communication There are four primary reasons for
technologies. Many traffickers with legal inappropriate or inadequate responses to
status abroad fly to their countries of origin trafficking.
to find new recruits for forced labour. They
use modern technologies to transport their 1. Denial of the problem
victims with little risk of detection. Many governments are unwilling to
Corruption plays a crucial facilitating acknowledge the existence of trafficking, or
role. As the socialist systems and economies only recognise trafficking of women into
of the former Soviet Union and elsewhere forced prostitution. Even when presented
collapsed, some civil servant salaries fell with incontrovertible evidence of extensive
below the poverty level. As a result, trafficking of all forms, many governments
criminal activities in many countries are still refuse to acknowledge that trafficking
organised by, or with the co-operation of, is a problem.
officials. Corruption is so extensive in some A number of means are necessary to
countries that victims who escape and force governments to act. Research has the
report to the police risk being sent back to potential to reveal the scope of the problem,
the traffickers. Under these conditions, if not the exact numbers of people
traffickers no longer need to build walls or involved. Research should cover all forms
put bars on windows. of trafficking, e.g., trafficking of women
into forced prostitution, forced marriages,
Xenophobic, tightly controlled immi-
and forced domestic work, and of men,
gration laws in destination countries also
women, and children into forced labour or
facilitate trafficking (Morrison 2000).
slavery in factories, fields, streets, and
Countries of destination grant visas for
homes. Undercover videos, high-profile
highly-skilled workers but not for unskilled
media campaigns, and international
workers despite the existence of millions of pressure are important tools that have been
low-skilled jobs. The gap between strict successful in many countries.
immigration policies and the need for
migrant labour provides a perfect environ- 2. Objectifying victims and failing to
ment for trafficking. Trafficking will consider their human rights
probably increase, for example, in Europe, Governments consistently fail to consider
where the demand for labour will continue the crime from the perspective of the
to grow as birth rates continue to decline. trafficked person and are particularly inept
at understanding the problem from the
Weaknesses of domestic perspective of trafficked women. They
legal responses view trafficking as a problem of organised
crime, migration, and/or prostitution,
The common thread running through rather than as a human rights abuse. Thus,
government responses to trafficking is the advocates bear the burden of educating
prevalence of inappropriate or inadequate authorities on the rights and needs of
laws and policies. Governments either trafficked persons. A particularly difficult
provide some protections to some victims,1 aspect of this work involves demonstrating
or no protections at all.2 A partial exception to authorities that women who are
to this bleak picture is the recent US trafficked into forced prostitution, forced
legislation, which covers all forms of domestic work, and other forms of forced

labour should not be deprived of their upon citizenship. This approach allows
rights on the grounds that they are governments to treat trafficked persons and
undocumented migrants who 'knew' what undocumented migrants in the same
to expect and so deserved what they 'got'. manner - to deport them immediately. As a
Even governments and NGOs that are result, traffickers are not prosecuted;
sincerely concerned about the situation of instead the victims may be prosecuted for
trafficked women often treat the women as immigration and labour violations. Some
vulnerable and passive objects who are governments only prosecute trafficking into
incapable of making reasoned judgments forced prostitution, and may deport
and, consequently, need to be rescued and trafficked persons when their testimony is
'rehabilitated'. The reality often stands in no longer needed.
stark contrast. Trafficked women, and men, Advocates are constantly forced to
are likely to be strong, risk-taking educate officials on the difference between
individuals who have made rational trafficking and smuggling. Their work can
choices and exercised their own agency in be supported by gathering stories about the
deciding to migrate. Unfortunately, they negative consequences of failing to
become victims of traffickers. They often distinguish between the two, for example,
have compelling reasons for leaving home, about returnees who are harmed or
and those reasons remain once they are retrafficked as a result of summary
freed. From the trafficked person's deportations. However, unless underlying
perspective, their need to feed a family or causes such as unemployment, political
send siblings to school may be stronger instability, gender discrimination in
than their desire to see their traffickers education, employment, the family, and the
brought to justice. political arena, and unrealistic immigration
The human rights framework shifts the laws, are addressed, undocumented labour
focus away from seeing trafficked persons migration will continue to increase, as will
as objects towards understanding them as trafficking of women.
people bearing human rights. It also
overcomes anti-immigrant bias, misogyny, 4. Improper definition of the crime
and contempt towards those trafficked Most governments (and some NGOs) only
persons who are also voluntary sex address the trafficking of women (and
workers. The human rights framework children) into forced prostitution. This is
dictates an empowerment approach to especially a problem in Western Europe,
assisting trafficked persons in retaking where other forms of trafficking are ignored
control over their lives and in ensuring that completely. This approach privileges one
women are treated as adults, not children. gender-specific group of victims. It ensures
that women, men, and children who are
3. Conflation of trafficking with trafficked into other forms of forced labour,
undocumented migration slavery, or servitude, and young men who
Governments consistently conflate are trafficked into forced prostitution are
trafficking with undocumented migration. not protected, and that their traffickers are
They argue that undocumented migrants not prosecuted.
and trafficked persons should be treated in The tendency to objectify trafficked
the same way in order to discourage future persons is doubly problematic when the
undocumented migration. They adopt a focus is only on women (and children) who
two-tiered approach to human rights are trafficked into forced prostitution. This
wherein only citizens have rights, despite gendered focus and conflation of trafficking
the fact that international human rights law with forced prostitution is especially
does not predicate the majority of rights problematic in Western Europe, where
Human rights or wrongs? 31

governments and NGOs ignore other forms It has also led to increased trafficking of
of trafficking as well as the trafficking of non-Western European women into forced
men. Women trafficked into forced prostitution.
prostitution are treated as 'madonnas' In sum, current legal responses are
(innocent, vulnerable) who need assistance discriminatory, and violate the rights of
and support or as 'whores' (conniving, some or all trafficked persons. They also
tainted) who need redemption and fail to increase prosecutions or reduce
rehabilitation. Governments and some undocumented migration because they fail
NGOs are eager to help 'madonna' victims to observe the rights of trafficked persons,
but not 'whore' victims. Objectification can or to treat them with dignity and respect.
also lead to laws and policies depriving
young women of their right to leave their
countries of citizenship (often with the
The lost opportunity for an
support of local NGOs) by withholding international human rights
passports or stopping women at the border. framework
A human rights approach would lessen the Until recently, no international legal
potential for such discriminatory responses. framework existed specifically to address
Another negative consequence of all forms of trafficking,5 even though all of
conflating trafficking with prostitution is the human rights violations that occur in
the development of abolitionist proposals trafficking are covered by existing human
to criminalise prostitution and clients (but rights instruments.6 An historic opportunity
not the sex workers). Abolitionists believe to incorporate those rights into a new
that, by magically prohibiting prostitution, international treaty recently occurred when
all forced prostitution and trafficking into the United Nations adopted the Protocol to
prostitution will disappear. 4 On the Prevent, Suppress, and Punish Trafficking
contrary, criminalising prostitution and in Persons, especially Women and Children
clients simply gives more power to (United Nations 2000b, c). The complete
criminals. It forces independent sex Protocol (United Nations 2000d) consists of
workers into the hands of third parties who three documents: the Protocol itself,
offer protection from arrest and police relevant provisions of the new Convention
abuse. Once the industry is pushed Against Transnational Organized Crime
underground, organised crime takes over, (United Nations 2000a), and the Inter-
and trafficking into forced prostitution pretative Notes to the Protocol (United
increases. Nations 2000e).
For example, trafficking in Sweden has The Protocol was created at the UN
increased since January 1999, when Sweden Commission on Crime Prevention and
began criminalising clients of sex workers. Criminal Justice in Vienna rather than at
A National Criminal Police Report found one of the human rights bodies located in
that, 'Sweden's sex trade was in danger of Geneva. The NGO community was
becoming more violent in the future, as the represented by the Human Rights Caucus,7
law in fact encouraged more women to be which had two goals: to ensure that the
brought in from overseas.' It concluded first international definition of trafficking
that the new law is protecting the criminals recognises that women, men, and children
who now control the industry (Goldsmith are trafficked into forced labour, slavery,
1999). Conversations by the author with sex and servitude; and to incorporate a human
workers in Sweden confirm that the new rights framework into the final document.
law has forced independent Swedish and The Human Rights Caucus was
other European sex workers underground. successful in achieving the first goal.

The first international definition of defined in the Protocol, which is therefore

trafficking reads: without prejudice to how States Parties
'"Trafficking in persons" shall mean the address prostitution in their respective
recruitment, transportation, transfer, domestic laws.' (United Nations 2000e)
harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of
the threat or use of force or other forms of
Thus, the compromise recognises the
coercion, of abduction, offraud, of deception,
difference between forced (or involuntary)
of the abuse of power or of a position of
and voluntary adult participation in sex
vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of
work. Governments can choose to define
payments or benefits to achieve the consent
the terms in any way they choose.
of a person having control over another
However, there is no reason to include the
person, for the purpose of exploitation.
two undefined terms in domestic legislation
Exploitation shall include, at a minimum,
because they only add unnecessary
the exploitation of the prostitution of others
confusion. Additionally, all possible forms
or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced
of trafficking are included in the terms
labour or services, slavery or practices
'forced labour or services, slavery and
similar to slavery, servitude or the removal
servitude'. Involuntary sex work (like other
or organs.'
forms of involuntary or forced labour) is
covered by the term 'forced labour or
Slavery, forced labour or services, and services'. Furthermore, voluntary migrant
servitude are all defined in other sex work (like other forms of voluntary
international instruments8 and cover all migrant labour) is covered by the Smuggling
forms of trafficking. The terms 'exploitation Protocol.
of the prostitution of others' and 'sexual Countries that decide, nonetheless, to
exploitation' are not defined in the Protocol
include those two terms in their domestic
or anywhere else in international law. They
laws will have to define them. Every
are undefined and included in the
element of a criminal prohibition must be
definition as a means to end an
clearly stated so that the public is given
unnecessary yearlong debate over whether
or not voluntary adult prostitution should notice about the prohibited activity, and
be defined as trafficking. Delegates were judges and juries will be able to determine
unable to reach any agreement on this guilt or innocence. Undefined crimes
point and so finally compromised on the violate international human rights norms
last day of the negotiations by leaving the and most (or all) of the world's constitutions.
terms undefined. This ensures that The Human Rights Caucus was less
governments will be able to sign the successful in achieving its second goal.
Protocol, despite their different laws on sex Delegates insisted that the Protocol is a
work. 'law enforcement' instrument, and that
protections must be linked to law
The compromise is explained in the
enforcement goals, such as witness
Interpretative Notes (Travaux preparatoires)
to the Protocol: protection. Despite the best efforts of
the Human Rights Caucus and a few
'The Travaux preparatoires should delegations to raise the human rights
indicate that the Protocol addresses the issues, there was no time to discuss
exploitation of the prostitution of others andprotections because so much time was
other forms of sexual exploitation only in thewasted on the yearlong debate over
context of trafficking in persons. The termsprostitution.
"exploitation of the prostitution of others" or The final Protocol, then, is primarily a
"other forms of sexual exploitation" are notlaw enforcement tool. Governments
Human rights or wrongs? 33

'shall adopt' laws to criminalise trafficking, existing international human rights norms.
share information, and extradite suspected The Human Rights Standards document
traffickers. They only 'shall consider' and contains specific recommendations on
'shall endeavour' to provide assistance and measures that governments should adopt
protections. The Protocol perpetuates the in order to avoid re-victimising trafficked
two-tiered approach to human rights. persons. The main goal of advocacy would
A unique opportunity to bring human be to ensure that all of the Protocol
rights to the foreground of the international provisions (including relevant sections of
legal response to trafficking was thus lost the Convention) and all. of the protections
and another similar opportunity is highly called for in the Human Rights Standards
unlikely. Consequently, the focus now are adopted into domestic law.
shifts to the national level, and the burden Advocates can also refer to legislation in
of advocating for rights-protective national other countries, but with a highly critical
legislation and policies shifts to domestic eye, as bad practices unfortunately far
NGOs. outnumber good practices. Paternalistic
attitudes or anti-immigration policies are
the norm.
Opportunity and challenge Advocates might consider encouraging
for rights-protective their governments to incorporate the
domestic legislative following measures, at a minimum, into the
responses trafficking law and policy responses:
NGOs can seize this unique opportunity. Equality
Never again will so many countries be Trafficking laws must be interpreted and
focusing at one time on trafficking applied in a non-discriminatory manner to
legislation and policies. All countries that all persons,9 which means that women and
ratify the Protocol are obliged to adopt men should have equal access to justice,
legislation implementing the Protocol and protections, assistance, and immigration
relevant provisions of the Convention. relief in origin and destination countries.
Many countries are already drafting new Governments must address the root causes
laws and most have little understanding of of trafficking, particularly discriminatory
the problem, or what appropriate responses laws and practices that result in higher
should be. NGOs can provide much- illiteracy for girls, higher unemployment
needed insights on the gender-based causes for women, denial of women's rights to
and consequences of trafficking and choose a spouse and plan a future, and lack
appropriate legal responses. of protection of women and children from
However, most NGOs are unfamiliar violence in the home and in society.
with the Protocol and need training,
education, and advocacy materials, and Access to justice
access to networks with expertise. NGOs The Protocol obliges governments to
can study the new Protocol, including the criminalise trafficking10 and corruption,
Convention and the Interpretative Notes and vigorously to investigate and prosecute
(United Nation 2000d), and the Human officials at all levels.11
Rights Standards for the Treatment of Governments must also ensure that
Trafficked Persons (GAATW et al. 1999). trafficked persons have the right to sue
The Human Rights Standards were their traffickers for the harm they have
developed by organisations worldwide that suffered. Governments must 'ensure' that
work with, or advocate on behalf of, trafficked persons have 'the possibility of
trafficked persons. They are based upon obtaining compensation for damage

suffered'. 12 The Convention requires regain control over their lives. During this
governments to confiscate the assets of the period, they should be able to contact a
traffickers,13 but is silent about how to use doctor and a lawyer, analyse legal options,
the assets. Delegates to the negotiations and contact family members and friends at
refused to adopt a Human Rights Caucus home to determine whether it is safe to
proposal to use confiscated assets, first, to return.
pay compensation and reintegration costs The Protocol's immigration provisions
to trafficked persons;14 second, to pay for are weak and allow governments to choose
services to trafficked persons in origin and whether or not to provide temporary
destination countries; and, third, to fund residence.18 However, governments should
anti-trafficking programs in origin and not summarily deport trafficked persons
destination countries. who, by definition, have been subjected to
Trafficked persons must not be horrific abuse. Summary deportation denies
trafficked persons access to justice, and may
prosecuted for undocumented entry or
place them at risk of retaliation back home.
unauthorised work. Specific language may
be necessary to ensure that trafficked The law should also provide for longer
persons are never prosecuted for stays for witnesses in criminal prosecutions
prostitution-related offenses, even if and for trafficked persons who file civil
prostitution is prohibited. claims against the traffickers. It should
grant permanent residence if returning
Protection of trafficked persons home is unsafe or reintegration into the
Governments have an obligation to ensure home community would be extremely
the security of every person.15 The Protocol difficult.19 The Protocol language is very
and the Convention call upon governments weak on this point but it does encourage
to protect the identity and privacy of governments to offer permanent residence
trafficked persons, to keep legal 'in appropriate cases'.20 Provisions should
proceedings confidential,16 and to protect also be adopted to permit family members
witnesses.17 Domestic law should incorporate to join trafficked persons, if necessary.21
these protections and also provide Governments should take steps to
protections for relatives who are similarly prevent trafficking of migrant domestic
threatened. Government should also workers and foreign fiancees. For example,
protect trafficked persons who are not women should be given information about
witnesses but who are threatened. their legal rights in the destination country.
A mechanism might be developed to
Immigration law ensure that, upon arrival, foreign domestic
Governments must reform their workers and fiancees are placed in contact
immigration laws to allow people to with supporting NGOs.
migrate legally to meet the domestic Additionally, individuals who facilitate
demand for labour. Research and the importation of domestic workers and
scholarship are needed to document the fiancees should be required, under criminal
link in order to gather support for sanctions, to disclose fully to women the
appropriate immigration law reform. background of their potential employer or
Immigration laws should not be used to husband, including providing women with
punish trafficked persons. Trafficked official government reports on any criminal
persons must not be subjected to the same background, financial situation, and
treatment as undocumented migrants. present and prior marriages, particularly
They should be allowed to remain for a the existence of any prior marriages to
reasonable period of time so that they can immigrant women.
Human rights or wrongs? 35

Lastly, governments must adopt and financial or other assistance, for

enforce a policy ensuring that all persons example, for food, clothing, and
with diplomatic immunity who traffic telephone calls home;
domestic workers are expelled from the a means to return home safely.
country. At present, trafficking diplomats
are totally exempt from prosecution, are
not prevented from bringing in more Conclusion
domestic workers, and are rarely expelled Trafficking in human beings is high on the
(Connor 2001). international agenda at present. Despite
this, NGOs face significant difficulties in
Provision of basic services
overcoming official reluctance to accept
Governments at the Protocol negotiations
responsibility for the protection of the
refused to accept an obligation to provide
rights of trafficked persons. However, by
services to trafficked persons despite the
working together to bring their voices and
existence of human rights principles that
the voices of trafficked persons to the
'recognize the right of everyone [including highest national and international levels,
non-citizens] to an adequate standard of they can make a difference. They will
living..., including adequate food, clothing, ensure that this unique opportunity to
and housing', 'the fundamental right of impact on the lives of hundreds of
everyone to be free from hunger',22 and the thousands, perhaps millions, of people
obligation to create 'the conditions which worldwide is not lost.
would assure all medical service and
medical attention in the event of sickness.'23
Ann Jordan is Director of the Initiative Against
Some delegates objected in principle and
Trafficking in Persons at the International
other raised financial concerns.
Human Rights Law Group, 1200 18th Street
Delegates from poorer countries NW, Washington, DC 20008, USA.
pointed out that their governments cannot Tel: +1 202 822-4600, ext. 27;
afford to pay for services for their own fax: +1 202 822 4606;
citizens, let alone for immigrants. A
Human Rights Caucus proposal to exempt traffickingjpersonsl
poor countries from providing services
until they are financially capable of doing
so was not adopted.24 Notes
If governments fail to provide any 1 For example, anti-trafficking laws in
services, then NGOs will face the entire Belgium, the Netherlands, and Italy only
burden of providing services and seeking cover trafficking into forced sex work.
financial support from the government and 2 The majority of countries do not have
other sources. The following services, laws criminalising trafficking into forced
which could be funded - at least in part - labour, slavery, or servitude.
from confiscated assets, should be provided 3 Victims of Trafficking and Violence
or funded by the government: Protection Act of 2000 (HR 3244)
basic medical and mental health care; 4 An analogous approach would be to
shelter that is not a form of prison or criminalise all domestic or factory work
because some people are trafficked into
those forms of labour.
protection from the traffickers; 5 The Convention for the Suppression of
access to information on legal rights and the Traffic in Persons and of the
to attorneys or advocates; Exploitation of the Prostitution of Others

is an anti-sex work instrument. It has 14 Some countries pay compensation and

had a negative impact on women other claims out of confiscated assets.
because it has forced the sex industry Others have said they will not do so.
underground and pushed women into 15 International Covenant on Civil and
the hands of organised criminals. It does Political Rights, article 9.1
not a d d r e s s trafficking into forced 16 Protocol, article 6.1
labour, slavery, and servitude, hence the 17 Convention on Transnational Organized
need for a new international instrument. Crime, article 24
6 For example, in the Slavery Convention, 18 Protocol, article 7
the Supplemental Convention on the 19For example, US and Belgium laws
Abolition of Slavery, the Slave Trade, make permanent residence available
and Institutions and Practices Similar to under certain circumstances.
Slavery; and the International Labour 20 Protocol, article 8
Organisation Convention no. 29 21 For example, US law authorises visas for
Concerning Forced Labor. family members under certain
7 The Human Rights Caucus members circumstances
are: the International Human Rights 22 International Covenant on Economic,
Law Group, Foundation Against Social and Cultural Rights, articles 11.2
Trafficking in Women, Global Alliance and 11.3 (United Nations 2002)
Against Traffic in Women, Asian 23 International Covenant on Economic,
Women's Human Rights Council, La Social and Cultural Rights, article.
Strada, Ban-Ying, Fundacion Esperanza, 12.2(d) (United Nations 2002)
Foundation for Women, KOK-NGO 24 Protocol, article 6.3
Network Against Trafficking in Women,
Women's Consortium of Nigeria, and
Women, Law and Development in
Africa (Nigeria). Connor, J. (2001) 'Domestic Slavery', a
8 Slavery Convention, art. 1: 'Slavery is Report prepared for the Council of
the status or condition of a person over Europe Committee on Equal Oppor-
whom any or all of the powers attaching tunities for Women and Men, Document
to the right of ownership are exercised.' 9102, 17 May 2001,
ILO Convention no. 19 Concerning doc/docOl/EDOC9102.htm (last checked
Forced Labor, art. 2: 'Forced or by author February 2002)
compulsory labor [is] all work or service Global Alliance Against Trafficking in
which is exacted from any person under Women (GAATW) et al. (1999) 'The
the menace of any penalty and for which Human Rights Standards for the
the said person has not offered himself Treatment of Trafficked Persons',
voluntarily.' Section I of the http: / / initiatives
Supplementary Convention on the /trafficking_persons/ and
Abolition of Slavery describes some
types of 'servitude'. index.html (last checked by author
9 Protocol, article 14.2 February 2002)
10 Protocol, article 5 Goldsmith, B. (1999) 'Swedish law fails to
11 Convention on Transnational Organized curb prostitution', Stockholm: Reuters
Crime, article 8 Stockholm, 7 May
12 Protocol, section 6.6 Morrison, J. (2000) 'The Trafficking and
13 Convention on Transnational Organized Smuggling of Refugees: The End Game
Crime, article 12 in European Asylum Policy?',
Human rights or wrongs? 37

http: / / refworld / pub / Nations Convention Against Trans-

wpapers/wpno39.pdf (last checked by national Organized Crime', with
author February 2002) annotations: http:/ /www.hrlawgroup.
United Nations (2000a) 'United Nations org / initiatives / traf f icking_persons /
Convention Against Transnational (last checked by author February 2002)
Organized Crime', http://www.odccp. United Nations (2000e) 'Interpretative
org / crime_cicp_convention.html* final Notes for the Official Records (Travaux
(last checked by author February 2002) Preparatories) of the Negotiation of the
United Nations (2000b) 'The Protocol to United Nations Convention Against
Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking Transnational Organized Crime and the
in Persons, Especially Women and Protocols', http:/ /
Children, Supplementing the United crime_cicp_convention_documents.html
Nations Convention Against Trans- (last checked by author February 2002)
national Organized Crime' United Nations (2002) 'International
http:/ / Covenant on Economic, Social and
convention.html#final (last checked by Cultural Rights and International
author February 2002) Covenant on Civil and Political Rights'
United Nations (2000c) 'The Protocol to
Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking (last checked by the author February
in Persons, Especially Women and 2002)
Children, Supplementing the United
Nations Convention Against Trans-
national Organized Crime', ratifications at:
http:/ /
signatures.html (last checked by author
February 2002)
United Nations (2000d) 'The Protocol to
Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking
in Persons, Especially Women and
Children, Supplementing the United

Trafficking in children in
West and Central Africa
Mike Dottridge
Trafficking of children between various African countries shot to prominence in April 2001 as a
result of media reports that a ship carrying 'slave children', the Etireno, had gone missing after
being refused permission to land at Libreville in Gabon. When the ship eventually docked in Cotonou
in Benin, the port it had first sailed from, some journalists reported that no slaves were found on
board. There were 43 trafficked children on the boat, not chained or visibly enslaved. They were
accompanied by adults who initially claimed to be relatives, but who, after leaving the boat, did their
best to disappear from view. Many of the children remained so intimidated that they did not dare
recount the truth about where they came from to social workers at the shelters they were taken to,
run by Terre des Hommes and others. This article highlights media portrayal of trafficking in
children in West and Central Africa, explains why girls are more likely to be trafficked, and
discusses some counter-trafficking initiatives undertaken by a range of institutions.

West African countries was being revealed

overty is a central factor in the
decision of parents to send their to the public for the first time, and one BBC
children away to work. The prospect journalist claimed that slavery was 'West
of good wages in a wealthier country, such Africa's dirty little secret'. The media
as Gabon or Cote d'lvoire, makes sending attention also precipitated an expensive
children away seem acceptable. The programme by the cocoa and chocolate
realities of what migrant or trafficked industry to put its house in order. In
children have to face along the route and practice, however, it was West African
once they reach their destination are not NGO activists and journalists who had
widely known. However, poverty is not the done the bulk of the work in bringing the
only factor influencing the pattern of pattern of child trafficking in the region to
trafficking of children that occurs in West light, as well as pioneering efforts to assist
and Central Africa. The majority, particularly the children concerned.
of younger trafficked children, are girls. Western media reports portrayed the
There exists an assumption - common in problem as one of slavery, rather than
other parts of the world as well - that girls 'mere' trafficking. The reality of today's
are best suited for work in the house or slave trade in most parts of the world is
linked to the household economy; that girls that adults and children fleeing poverty or
will leave their parental household on seeking better prospects are manipulated,
marriage; and that it is consequently not deceived, and bullied into working in
worth investing in their education or future conditions that they would not choose. For
to the same extent as it might be for boys. this reason, the term 'trafficking' is usually
more appropriate than 'slavery' - although
some children and adults certainly do end
Trafficking or slavery? up as slaves. The investigations in West
Many media reports in 2001 suggested that Africa revealed that children, many of them
the trafficking of children between different younger than 12, were being moved
Trafficking in children in West and Central Africa 39

between countries at an alarming rate. with demand highest in relatively well-off

While some girls are trafficked into areas such as Gabon, southwest Nigeria,
prostitution, most children go into other and southern Cote d'lvoire.
forms of work, with the majority of girls
employed as domestic servants or street Demand for girls' labour in urban areas
vendors. Some are paid, but many are not. The demand in urban areas appears to be
In most cases, recruiters promise to send significantly higher for girls than boys.
the children's parents some money, and in Girls are sought by adult women, to work
a few cases they hand over cash straight for them in the house, or to assist them in
away. However, families do not 'sell' their selling food and other products in the
children: they send them away in the hope streets and markets. To some extent,
that they will make their fortune in therefore, in West Africa as elsewhere, the
wealthier cities or countries overseas and - employment by women of other women or
mistakenly - they trust the smooth-talking girls to carry out domestic chores is a sign
agents who paint a rosy picture of the of women's economic power.
children's prospects. Women employers not only say that
In numerous cases Western journalists girls are 'more obedient' than boys, and
reminded their audiences that the region consequently preferred, but sometimes
where children were being enslaved was even know which ethnic group they prefer
precisely the same 'Slave Coast' visited by as the 'most obedient'. In contrast, the
ships involved historically in the Trans- demand for boys seems to be lower in
atlantic slave trade. They seemed to be towns, as they are less frequently employed
suggesting that West Africans are as domestic servants. However, boys are
irredeemably attached to slavery as a way recruited to work on farms in Cote d'lvoire
of recruiting cheap labour, although the and other areas, doing work that accords
sentiments were rarely voiced in such racist priority to physical strength. There is also
terms. Most reporters focused on the an established pattern of trafficking of
sectors where cruelty and exploitation were young Nigerian women from Edo State into
most visible - the horrendous experiences prostitution in Europe, but that is not
of children in transit and after arriving at covered in this article.
their destinations. Very few visited the
Gender inequality and child placement
children's villages or towns of origin to
Undoubtedly, the West African tradition of
report on the factors propelling children 'placing' children in other people's
away. households has been a major cultural factor
encouraging trafficking (and in late 2001
Gender roles and this was said to be largely responsible for
the large number of West African children
inequality: a key factor living in Britain with families other than
Cross-border trafficking of children got their own - reportedly around 10,000).J
under way in West Africa on a significant However, other traditions have aggravated
scale in the 1980s, based on the region's the situation. The custom of girls marrying
traditions of migration and of 'placing' out, leaving their families and often their
children to live and work with relatives and community when they get married, means
in better off households as part of their up- that families are accustomed to daughters
bringing. In some cases, children sent to leaving the household and community at
relatives helped with housework. By the some point. Secondly, in communities
late 1990s, however, it was clear that there where girls work in the home and are not
was a regional market for child labour, kept in school to learn other skills, domestic

service and early marriage become the only 'The traffic of children especially concerns
career paths available for many. Thirdly, young girls between the ages of eight and 12.
rules of inheritance - particularly rules that Children as young as six have also been
exclude girls and women from owning or found. There is a very distinct preference on
inheriting land - tend to marginalise girls the part of parents to place girls rather than
and women in their communities of origin. boys in the service of relatives, be they close
An integrated strategy against trafficking or far away. According to the investigation,
should encompass these factors, as well as the phenomenon affects 80 per cent of
the poverty of many rural areas, the ease children in rural environments, of which 75
with which children can be moved across per cent of the girls have never set foot in a
frontiers illegally, and the inclination of school. More than 50 per cent of them are
employers to exploit children who are not younger than 14 years old.'2
their own ruthlessly.
The following year (April 1998) WAO-
Afrique organised a seminar in Togo, to
NGO research and discuss its findings. This was the first
investigations occasion when officials from Benin and
As early as September 1996, Constitutional Togo met together to talk about the
Rights Project, a Nigerian NGO, focused problem, together with representatives of
attention on child trafficking inside Nigeria, NGOs and UNICEF. While Togolese
as well as into and out of the country, in a government officials were at this point
report entitled 'Modernised Slavery - Child unwilling to even use the term 'trafficking'
Trade in Nigeria'. At about the same time, to describe the export of children, the
WAO-Afrique, an NGO based in Lome Beninois authorities indicated that they
(Togo) - which for several years had been were already active in trying to prevent
assisting children brought from rural areas children from being taken abroad, and had
to work as domestic servants in Lome - intercepted 700 children at border points
started investigating reports that large during the first seven months of 1997 alone.
numbers of Togolese girls were being taken During 1998, others in West Africa took
abroad to work as domestic servants, up the issue. An NGO in Benin, ESAM,
principally to Gabon (Effah 1996). (supported by Anti-Slavery International
Reporting to a UN working group in and Britain's National Lottery) investigated
May 1997 on their findings, WAO-Afrique's the situation of Beninois children taken to
director, Cleophas Mally, recalled how his work in Gabon. Its investigators interviewed
organisation's investigation of human 138 trafficked children in Gabon, all but one
trafficking was sparked by a letter from a of whom were girls. Other testimonies
young Togolese woman in Lebanon, revealed that Beninois children were being
complaining that she found herself in held in transit at fishing villages in south-
conditions amounting to slavery. While east Nigeria, before being embarked in
WAO-Afrique prepared to focus on the open canoes to cross the sea to Libreville.
trafficking of young women to work as Also in 1998, a newspaper in Cote
domestics in the Middle East, however, its d'lvoire denounced the trafficking of
investigators found that many more (and children from Burkina Faso and Mali into
younger) Togolese girls were being Cote d'lvoire, and claimed that boys were
exported to Gabon, an oil-exporting being sold to work on farms for as little as
country in central Africa. Reporting to the US$30, producing a range of commercial
UN, WAO-Afrique said it had found the crops (IVOIR'SOIR 1998,18). The newspaper
following pattern: publicity led the governments of Cote
Trafficking in children in West and Central Africa 41

d'lvoire and Mali to set up a commission of Conclusions

inquiry and, in September 2000, to sign an
agreement to curb the traffic. Virtually all of the research on trafficking of
children in West and Central Africa
suggests that the majority of trafficked
UN and government children are girls. It is clear to investigators
responses that gender issues are critical in determining
which children are sent away by parents,
From 1998 onwards, inter-governmental and which are preferred for employment in
organisations started taking an interest in urban households. Gender issues have been
the issue, starting with UNICEF, which taken into account when programmes to
held a sub-regional workshop on prevent trafficking have been designed -
'Trafficking in Child Domestic Workers, in programmes have stressed in particular the
particular Girls in Domestic Service in West value of keeping girls in school as long as
and Central Africa', in July 1998. The ILO boys - but these are in their infancy.
and the World Bank also became involved,
as did the UN Centre for International However, West African policy makers'
Crime Prevention, working with ECOWAS sensitivity and commitment to gender
(the Economic Community of West African issues are much less obvious. At a very
States), to produce an ECOWAS Declaration crude level, the region's governments
and Plan of Action Against Trafficking in assume that trafficking is an issue for
December 2001. Suddenly it seemed that whichever ministry deals with women's
the issue of child trafficking was one that and girl's issues, rather than one which
every organisation had to be seen to be should be handled, for example, by the
doing something about. Ministry of Labour in the context of
mainstream employment and child labour
Within two years these international policies. The result so far has been that
organisations were virtually tripping over rather ineffective actions have been taken
each other to organise programmes and on a piecemeal basis in a way that would
help local organisations - but there was almost certainly be unacceptable if the
(and is) little effective co-ordination between majority of trafficking victims were men
them. Each agrees that its general objective and boys.
is to end trafficking of children, but their
strategies for doing so differ and so make
contradictory demands on the government Mike Dottridge is Director of Anti-Slavery
and societies involved. Rather surprisingly, International, Thomas Clarkson House, The
the agencies have given very little priority Stableyard, Broomgrove Road, London SW9
to identifying the best practical ways of 9TL, United Kingdom. Tel: +44 (0)207 501
protecting trafficked children once they are 8920; fax +44 (0)207 738 4110;
recognised, or to resolving the key question E-mail:
of whether to leave the children where they
are, while improving their conditions, or
whether to remove and repatriate them. One
consequence is that a small and unofficial
NGO based in Libreville is still tackling this
challenge virtually on its own, without the
resources or profile that support from
international organisations could give it.

Notes References
1 This was reported on BBC Radio Four's Effah, J. (1996) Modernised Slavery - Child
Today programme in December 2001. Trade in Nigeria, Lagos: Constitutional
2 Cleophas Mally, Director of WAO Rights Project
Afrique, in a statement to the Working Diaroukou, Sangho (1998) 'Trafic d'enfants
Group on Contemporary Forms of maliens - les auteurs demasques',
Slavery (22nd session, Geneva, June IVOIR'SOIR, p.18,18 May
1997) of the UN Sub-commission on
Prevention of Discrimination and
Protection of Minorities.

Child marriage and child

two forms of sexual exploitation
Susanne Louis B. Mikhail
This article highlights some of the similarities between child marriages and child prostitution. Both
child marriage and prostitution involve economic transactions, lack of freedom, and the violation of a
child's right to consent. This is often exacerbated by social and economic vulnerabilities of children
linked to limited life options. In order to capture much of the ongoing discussion and debate taking
place in North Africa and the Middle East, this article draws on anecdotal evidence, limited research
samples, communication with local actors, and the author's own personal experiences in the region.
It also discusses some initiatives undertaken by a range of institutions with the aim of preventing
these practices.

Shifting attitudes to early marriage

he countries in North Africa and the
Middle East differ markedly in their However, time has dramatically modified
level of economic development, these general attitudes such that early
political climate, degree of secularism, and marriages in general and child marriage in
social structures. However, there are some particular are increasingly frowned upon in
areas of social life where general attitudes many Middle Eastern and North African
and beliefs are similar in many countries. countries. This change has been manifested
Child marriages and child prostitution are in various international statements. The
two such areas. African Charter on the Rights and of the
Traditionally, child marriages and child Welfare of the Child, drafted in 1990, states
prostitution have been regarded as being in that, 'Child marriage and the betrothal of
moral opposition to each other. While early girls and boys shall be prohibited, and
marriages have been respected and valued effective action including legislation shall
as desirable and honorable, prostitution has be taken to specify the minimum age of
been denounced as an absolute disgrace, marriage to be 18 years.' The Inter-African
and in religious circles has usually been Committee on Traditional Practices
condemned as a sin. The honour attached Affecting the Health of Women and
to early marriage has traditionally been Children states that early marriage is 'any
linked to its most central purpose: the marriage carried out below the age of 18,
assurance of virginity at the time of before the girl is physically, physiologically
marriage.1 In addition, early marriage is a and psychologically ready to shoulder the
way of preventing girls from initiating responsibilities of marriage and child
intimate relations with unfamiliar men. bearing'.
Conversely, child prostitution endorses Not only is child marriage becoming a
intimate contact with often unfamiliar men. source of criticism: the discourse of
comparing child marriages with child
prostitution is also taking a new course.

Increasingly, it is argued that the and their client. Similarly, child marriages
differences between child marriage and child often involve an economic transaction
prostitution are neither as many nor as between the client and supplier. This
profound as they were traditionally traditional practice is however explicitly
regarded to be, and that both practices prohibited by the 1956 Supplementary
share a number of characteristics. This Convention on the Abolition of Slavery, the
approach, once promoted by a few, avant- Slave Trade, and Institutions and Practices
garde NGOs and human rights advocates, Similar to Slavery. Article 1 states the
is now spreading within the general public, institutions and practices similar to slavery
political establishment, and cultural elites. where, 'a woman, without the right to
In October 2001, the government of refuse, is promised or given in marriage on
Morocco held the 'Pan-African Forum payment of a consideration in money or in
Against the Sexual Exploitation of Children' kind to her parents [or] guardian family...'.
in Rabat. Delegates from 65 countries were
amenable to the idea of identifying child Dowry payments
marriages in general and forced child In North Africa and the Middle East, the
marriages in particular as a type of institution of dowry complicates the
commercial sexual exploitation of children situation. The Koraan states that the
(child prostitution included). Although this husband must pay a 'mahr1 to his future wife.
approach was primarily espoused by The mahr is prevalent in all Muslim
NGOs and human rights lawyers, govern- marriages, but in marriages between two
ment representatives were increasingly in adults (where there is a higher degree of
agreement with this outlook. equality between the partners), it has less
significance and is usually channeled
This article outlines ongoing discussions through practical arrangements: for
concerning child marriage and child example, husbands might buy the flat while
prostitution taking place in North Africa wives contribute to interior furnishing and
and the Middle East. Due to the sensitivity contents. Thus, there is a sense of balance
surrounding the issues, it has been difficult and the mahr is reciprocated by the bride's
to conduct substantial research, and contribution. Mutual contributions to
research studies and estimates are often practical items are also common among the
based on anecdotal evidence and limited Christians in North Africa and the Middle
samples. As a result, I have chosen to refer East. In poor areas, however, where child
only sparingly to statistical data, as they are marriage is most prevalent, the dowry
often inadequate and not absolutely reliable. becomes of great importance. It turns into a
Instead, I have relied on personal field one-way transaction, a clear-cut payment.
experiences, and communications with With both child marriages and child
various local actors. As a result of the prostitution, exchanged payments are most
widespread silence of national legislation frequently received by a third party, and
on these issues, and their prevalence in not the girl herself. In child prostitution, the
social and religious debate, I have chosen to 'owner/employer' of the child usually
use religious texts and documentation as receives the payment. Normally he or she
sources of reference. passes on only a small amount to the girl.
In child marriages, a girl usually receives
nothing at all. The third party, usually her
Economic transactions: parents, receives the whole amount.
beneficiaries and losers Ironically, the dowry received on the
Prostitution is characterised by an economic marriage of a daughter is quite often used
transaction, usually between the supplier to pay for the dowry of a son's future bride.
Child marriage and child prostitution 45

Though national laws do not regulate commercial form, as broker markets have
this kind of payment, the Koraan itself is emerged for young girls to be contracted
quite explicit about dowry. Verse 4:004 into 'marriage' to wealthy men from the
states, 'And give the women [on their Arab Gulf countries. The agents operate
marriage] their dower as a free gift, but if undercover, introducing the families of
they, of their good pleasure, remit any part prospective brides to their future husbands,
of it to you, take it and enjoy it with right whereupon a contract is drawn between the
good cheer.' Clearly, the dowry should be two parties. Since the marriage is illegal it is
paid to the woman, in this case the child. not registered, the main point of negotiation
being the amount of the mahr (dowry).
Siqueh and short-term contract These women's social and economic status
marriages does not improve after marriage. They
The economic transaction in child marriages often find out that their principal role is to
is more similar to that of child prostitution serve the other wives of the wealthy man,
in the case of short term/short contract or they are left to fend for themselves and
marriages. For example, in Iran, a man can any resulting children after their husband
marry a female for a short period of time, disappears when the summer vacation is
ranging from hours to months. This system over (Tilgay and Sarhan 2001).
called siqueh, was originally put in place to The Ministry of Social Affairs conducted
assist war widows who had had no other a study in the summer of 2001 with 35
means of supporting their families. But as women in Badrashen and Hawamdeya,
the legal age for marriage is 13.8, this
two districts in the municipality of Giza. In
practice has actually become a way for men
these two districts, broker markets are well
to initiate pseudo-legalised child marriages,
established. The figures - which are not
that may last for only a few hours.
representative for Egypt as a whole, because
In Egypt there is a similar phenomenon, of the remoteness of these districts - show that
which has traditionally been ignored of the 35 women interviewed, 46 per cent
because of its sensitivity. However, last had married before they were 16, 29 per cent
year the Ministry of Social Affairs, in joint of whom married a husband aged over 55.
efforts with UNICEF, investigated this
specific type of child marriage. The study Abduction and temporary marriage
focused on a village near Cairo, which is In countries where there are conflicts, child
well known for marrying its young girls to marriages sometimes take the form of a
much older men from Arab countries. combination of child prostitution and pure
Usually the men marry these girls for a slavery. In Algeria, Sudan, and Chad,
short period - typically during the summer young women have been abducted by
months - at the end of which the men go militias or gangsters and are subjected to
back to their countries, where it is very sexual abuse and violence in what the
hard to trace them. The girls remain in their kidnappers call 'temporary marriages'. In
villages, and in many cases they give birth fact, this is a form of slavery in which the
to children. The legal age of consent to girls have no rights whatsoever. However,
marriage, which is 16, may be circum- these acts are also condemned by the
vented in a number of ways, including Koraan which states in verse 24: 033:
falsifying the girl's age with a doctor's '... and if any of you slaves ask for a deed
certificate, using the birth certificate of a in writing [to enable them to earn their
deceased older sister, or registering the freedom for a certain sum] give them such
marriage only after the bride has turned 16. a deed if ye know any good in them... but
A further problem is that in the last decade force not your maids to prostitution when
the phenomenon has taken on a highly they desire chastity...'.

Lack of consent: Convention on the Elimination of All

powerlessness and Forms of Discrimination against Women
prescribes for both men and women an
violation of rights equal right to enter marriage, choose a
Very few girls are informed of where they spouse, and enter marriage only with their
are heading, when they are brought into free and full consent. Finally, the
prostitution. Those that have some kind of Convention of the Rights of the Child -
idea of the impact it will have on their lives which has been ratified by all Middle
are usually very reluctant. Girls are not Eastern and North African countries -
given the opportunity to give their consent stresses 'the right of children to have their
or otherwise in a decision that will affect views taken into account in matters that
their entire life. Similarly, in child marriages, concern them'.
girls are usually not given a chance to give The national legislation of the countries
their consent. This is instead given by their in the Middle East and North Africa is
parents. generally lacking in terms of the protection
Few parents seek intentionally to harm of the right to consent to marriage.
their children; usually the lack of the child's However, since religious authorities are
consent is justified by reference to a general often more highly regarded and respected
belief that parents know best in these than legal instruments, they are in a
matters. But this kind of argument can only position to use their power of influence
work where adult daughters have excellent with reference to verse 4:019 in the Koraan.
communication and friendly relationships 'O ye who believe! Ye are forbidden to
with their parents. In this situation, parents inherit women against their will.'
as well as friends and others can offer Involving a girl in a marriage without
substantial advice. However, in child her consent can have dramatic effects on
marriages, which most often occur in poor her entire life and all her future prospects
areas where parents are responsible for a to become an equal decision maker in the
great number of children, the child bride- home. The lack of her consent gives a signal
to-be may be just one of many children and to her husband and to society as a whole
not a priority. More importantly, at the age that her opinion is unimportant.
of 12 or 14 - when most girls are neither
physically nor psychologically mature for
childbearing - no man whomsoever is
Lives of bondage
suitable. Child prostitutes worldwide are often
Denying children the right to consent to bonded to their owner or employer.
marriage is a violation of their rights and a Children's vulnerability means that their
crime according to several international freedom to choose whether to stay or leave
declarations. Article 16 of the 1948 Universal is extremely restricted. In most cases, the
Declaration on Human Rights states that child is seen as a possession or object that
'Marriage shall be entered into only with has been bought and is therefore not
free and full consent of the intending entitled to liberty. This kind of bondage is
parties.' Article 1 of the 1964 Convention further intensified in contexts where extreme
on Consent to Marriage, Minimum age of social stigma is associated with prostitution.
Marriage and Registration of Marriage, In other regions such as Asia or Latin
states that, 'No marriage shall be legally America, some children are engaged in
entered into without the full and free prostitution yet still maintain a relationship
consent of both parties, such consent to be with their family, often because of the
expressed by them in person as prescribed child's role as a family supporter and
by law.' Moreover, article 16.1 of the 1979 financial contributor. In the Middle East,
Child marriage and child prostitution 47

however, this is exceptionally rare. A child similar legal rights. In those countries
engaged in prostitution is deprived of all where legal mechanisms are being
ties to their community, rejected by their developed, for example, Egypt (which is
family, and is left with few or no options granting similar legal rights to women),
other than to stay in prostitution. practical implementation is very difficult
Similarly, when a girl has been given for social and economic reasons. A girl may
away as a bride, she is considered to be her find herself trapped within a marriage
husband's possession and bonded for life. because she sees no other means of survival.
This is particularly the case in societies Loss of adolescence, forced sexual
where considerable stigma attaches to relations, and the denial of freedom and
divorce. Some North African and Middle personal development have profound
Eastern countries, such as Egypt and psychological and emotional consequences
Tunisia, give girls the right to divorce, but (UNICEF 2001). Nevertheless, most girls in
in reality this is difficult. More often, they such situations have nowhere to go as they
are trapped, experiencing early and are surrounded by people who endorse
frequent childbirth, and vulnerable to their situation.
domestic violence.
In Egypt, 29 per cent of married
adolescents have been beaten by their
Economic and social
husbands and, of these, 41 per cent have vulnerability
been beaten during pregnancy. In Jordan, Children engaged in prostitution, and those
26 per cent of reported cases of domestic who are married, encounter tremendous
violence were committed against wives difficulties in changing their situation.
under 18. The dangerous effects of early Some few girls show exceptional strength
pregnancy and childbirth are widely (or exceptional desperation), either
accepted to include increased risk of dying, persuading their husbands to divorce them,
and increased risk of premature labour and or simply running away. However, those
severe complications during delivery. few who manage to escape - whether
Pregnancy-related deaths are the leading prostitutes or married/divorced - often
cause of mortality for 15-19-year-old girls find that their future is characterised by
(married or unmarried) worldwide. Those
extreme economic and social vulnerability.
under age 15 are five times more likely to
die than women in their twenties (UNICEF Economic vulnerability
2001). According to the Egyptian Ministry Economic vulnerability exists because of
of Social Affairs, the mortality rate of the lack of alternative work and livelihood
adolescent mothers is 60 per cent higher opportunities for girls who are usually
than that of mothers over 24 (Tilgay and under-educated and under-skilled. Child
Sarhan2001). prostitutes and married children have often
The general public has little consideration been deprived of substantial education
for (or is simply unaware of) international opportunities. A girl who marries becomes
declarations that support women's right to a housewife with limited opportunities to
divorce. Article 16 of the 1948 Universal continue her education. While child
Declaration on Human Rights states that, prostitutes have a theoretical possibility of
'Men and women of full age have the right attending school, as their 'working hours'
to found a family. They are entitled to are usually during the night, in practice this
equal rights as to consent to marriage, is difficult for various reasons. First, the
during marriage and its dissolution.' In 'owner' usually refuses to expose the child
most Islamic societies, men are entitled to to the public for fear of people noticing the
ask for divorce, while women do not have kind of activity that the child is engaged in.

This is particularly the case in Middle prisons. As these girls are seen as public
Eastern and North African countries where goods, they become subjected to physical
the penalties connected with prostitution violence and sexual abuse in the very
are extremely severe - in some cases the institutions that are supposed to protect
death penalty - and prostitution occurs them and help them in the recovery
undercover as a result. In addition, child process.
prostitutes are often involved in household
work during the day, or lack the energy
and capacity required for schoolwork. Conclusions
Child marriage and child prostitution In comparison with other regions such as
deny children of school age their right to South-East Asia, Eastern Europe, or Sub-
the education. This in turn hinders Saharan Africa, child prostitution is still
their potential to earn an income. very limited in North Africa and the
Consequently, child marriages and Middle East. Not surprisingly, poverty is
prostitution contribute to the 'feminisation the major contributory factor to children's
of poverty' (UNICEF 2001). vulnerability to sexual exploitation.
Child marriage is also linked to a high Children of the middle and upper classes,
degree of wife abandonment, which leaves and educated children in big cities such as
girls in a vulnerable situation. This case is Cairo, Amman, and Beirut have more
particularly relevant for short term /short protection and can be better informed of
contract marriages. The study that was their rights. Children in war-torn countries
conducted by the Egyptian Ministry of are more at risk of sexual exploitation, as
Social Affairs revealed that of the 35 they live in societies where some degree of
women interviewed, 67 per cent had anarchy and breakdown of social protection
subsequently divorced. None of these and controls prevails. There are links
women received any of the financial between conflicts in Algeria and Sudan and
assistance to which they were entitled by the increase in sexual vulnerability of
the Koraan. Verse 002:241 assures that 'For children.
divorced women maintenance [should be Cultural and social taboos in many
provided] on a reasonable [scale].' Middle Eastern and North African
Social vulnerability countries have hindered the practical
Child prostitutes and married children may administration of sound and adequate
both be exposed to community exclusion research. Child prostitution is practised to
and/or physical threats. Girls who insist on a much lesser extent than child marriage.
divorce usually experience isolation or Most countries have realised the paramount
abandonment. In many cases they are importance of protecting children from
punished through family-related violence, commercial sexual exploitation, and some
and in extreme cases their lives are very harsh penalty measures have been
threatened. They run the risk of the so- introduced to combat child prostitution.
called 'honour killing'. Lately, however, Despite the rising awareness of the harm
there have been some serious efforts by associated with child marriages, very little
governments to outlaw such practices. has been practically implemented to
Egypt and Jordan have been frontrunners combat this form of exploitation.
in combating 'honour killing' through The above-mentioned legal situation
tougher legal measures. creates an extraordinary and contradictory
Child prostitutes, on the other hand, climate where a man who sexually abuses a
often break free from prostitution only to child can on the one hand be sentenced to
find themselves placed in institutions or death (if it is a matter of child rape or child
Child marriage and child prostitution 49

prostitution), but on the other backed up by been genuinely interested in the well-
legal instruments and social approval (if he being of their child, the husbands have
chooses to marry the child). been caring and supportive, and the
However, as demonstrated in Rabat in children have been given a chance to
October 2001, most governments are give their consent, and had the
currently in the process of reviewing their opportunity to complete their education.
national legislation to offer stronger and But these cases are rare. In the best
more comprehensive support for children. circumstances the girl is indifferent, and
In addition, NGOs and human rights mostly she is discouraged and wants to
groups are progressively and courageously escape, but is unable to do so. I have
committed to upholding the rights of the listened to several first-hand stories and
child, while religious authorities become many child complaints, and they all
increasingly critical of child marriages. express similar fears and distress.
It is important to bear in mind that boys
are also subjected to child prostitution and
child marriages, and that they too need the
same kinds of protection. However, as this Tilgay, C. and D. Sarhan (2001) 'Early
article has demonstrated the social marriages amongst girls in Egypt; a
construction of women's and girls' roles, hidden phenomenon!?', Insight Magazine,
responsibilities, and relations mean that March, p.49
they typically have less control over their UNICEF (2001) 'Early Marriage, Child
lifes, and fewer life choices and options. Spouses', Innocenti Digest 7: March

Susanne Louis B. Mikhail is Regional Officer

for North Africa, the Middle East, and Central
Asia at ECPAT International, 328 Phya Thai
Road, Ratchatevi, Bangkok 10400, Thailand.

1 The significance of virginity is further
manifested by other practices such as
female genital mutilation (FGM) - which
has been prohibited in a number of
Middle Eastern and North African
countries, such as Egypt and Mauritania
- and 'virginity reconstruction', a
practice intended to reconstruct female
sex organs to give the impression that a
girl is a virgin, though she has had
sexual intercourse. Both operations pose
considerable risks to girls' health.
2 I feel obliged to mention that though all
cases of child prostitution I have
encountered have been destructive,
some child marriages have appeared to
be happy. In these cases the parents have

Slavery and gender:

women's double exploitation
Beth Herzfeld
For many people, the word slavery conjures up images from history - of the transatlantic slave trade,
the practice of buying and selling people that the modern world is supposed to have left behind, and
of the 19th century abolitionist movement. But the reality is that not only does slavery exist today,
it is expanding. An estimated 27 million women, children, and men are currently enslaved around
the world (Bales 1999, 8): Eastern European women are bonded into prostitution in Western Europe;
children are trafficked between West African countries; and men are forced to work as slaves on
Brazilian agricultural estates. Contemporary slavery can affect people of any age, sex, or race on
every continent and in most countries. This article is an introduction to what constitutes slavery.
It focuses on bonded labour (the most widespread form of slavery today), and on the worst forms of
child labour. It provides examples of the way in which socially constructed expectations can increase
women's and children's vulnerability to slavery-like practices.

What is slavery? their children. For example, in the case of

bonded labour (also known as debt bondage)
Contemporary slavery takes many forms: a debt that keeps individuals or families
bonded labour, forced labour, forced and enslaved can be passed on from generation
early marriage, the worst forms of child to generation.
labour, human trafficking, and 'traditional'
slavery. All types of slavery share some of
the following key elements, with persons Gender-specific forms of
being: slavery
forced to work through the threat or use Poverty, greed, marginalisation - particularly
of violence; of women and girls and of minority groups
owned or controlled by an 'employer', - social complicity, and lack of political will
usually through mental, physical, or to address the issue, are central to slavery's
threatened abuse; existence. Although slavery affects men,
dehumanised, treated as a commodity, women, and children, there are particular
or even bought and sold as 'property'; slavery-like practices that are gender-
physically constrained or having
Female ritual servitude, which is found
restrictions placed on their freedom of
in West Africa, is one example of this.
movement and freedom to change Under the system of Trokosi in south-
employment. eastern Ghana, girls as young as seven are
A person can be subject to more than one given by their family to a shrine in order to
form of slavery at a given time. In some atone for a family transgression. The family
cases, a person is enslaved for several believes that if they do not do this, they
months, in others they may be enslaved for will be cursed; this 'contract' can last for
their whole lives, passing the status on to generations.
Slavery and gender: women's double exploitation 51

As one former Trokosi recounted: Bonded labour and gender

7 was sent to the shrine when I was nine years issues
old because my grandmother stole a pair of
earrings. I was made to work from dawn until According to the United Nations Working
dusk in the fields and when I came home there Group on Contemporary Forms of Slavery,
was no food for me to eat. When I was 11, the at least 20 million people around the world
priest made his first attempt to sleep with me. are affected by bonded labour (United
I refused and was beaten mercilessly. The Nations 1999, 36). Bonded labour is most
other girls in the shrine told me it was going prevalent in South Asia, but it is also found
to keep happening and if I refused I would be in other regions including the Americas
beaten to death and the next time he tried and Europe.
I gave in. The suffering was too much so I People become bonded when their
tried to escape to my parents but they labour is demanded as a means of repayment
wouldn't accept me and sent me back to the for a loan, or for money given in advance.
shrine. I couldn't understand how my parents Usually they are forced by necessity or are
could be so wicked.' tricked into taking a loan in order to pay
(Anti-Slavery International 2000,11) for such basic needs as food, medicine, and
for social obligations such as the costs of a
Although the girls themselves have not
wedding or funeral. Some take loans in
committed any crime, they are obliged to
order to finance their migration, in search
work all day in the priest's fields and are
forced to act as a wife to him, including of a higher income elsewhere. To repay the
providing sexual services. The priest keeps loan, bonded labourers are typically forced
several Trokosi at a time. In effect, the priest to work long hours regardless of their age
exercises ownership over them. or health, sometimes for seven days a
More generally, social and cultural week, 365 days a year.
factors play a role in gender decisions over In South Asia, entire families can be
whether girls or boys are sent out to work bonded, requiring children, as well as
in order to send money back to the family. adults, to work. And once the loan is taken,
Because it is expected that girls in many bonded labourers are deprived of their rights
societies will leave the home at a future to negotiate terms and conditions of work.
date by marrying into another family, girls They are charged high rates of interest, and
are often less valued and seen as more because they do not even receive a minimum
dispensable than boys. In some cultures, wage, the cycle of interest and debt keeps
dowry payments are considered a financial them enslaved. Most have no proof of their
drain, meaning that a daughter is seen as a agreement and, if a contract exists, few can
burden to (and by) her family. Sending read it, leaving them vulnerable to continued
young girls away to work is a way of exploitation.
lightening the burden of a poor household. The practice has its roots in South Asia's
The work they go to do is seen as suited to caste system, and a disproportionate number
girls and women; often it is house-based are dalits (those at the bottom of the caste
work (domestic labour), involves making hierarchy) and members of tribal groups.
and selling food, or is sex work. In all forms In industries such as agriculture and
of slavery, women and girls are subject to quarrying, in some South Asian countries,
particular abuse and treatment because of
the vast majority of those working as
their gender. In the next section, bonded
bonded labourers come from those groups.
labour, and the additional hardships faced
by women who are bonded, are examined.

Women's additional hardship The worst forms of child

Although all bonded labourers are vulnerable labour
to abuse, women suffer additional hardship
due to their low social status. They not only The International Labour Organization
have to work long hours in the fields and estimates that of the 250 million (ILO 1996)
undertake domestic chores in their husband's children aged between five and 14 who
employer's home, but they must also fulfil work in developing countries, 120 million
domestic duties in their own home. (op. cit.) work full-time, and 80 million (ILO
When a husband becomes a bonded 1999, 2) are in work that is harmful to their
labourer, it is not unusual for his wife's mental and physical well-being. These
labour to be automatically included with figures do not include the number of
the man's as repayment by an employer. children who are engaged in the worst
And among bonded labourers, women and forms of child labour in Europe and North
girls are particularly vulnerable to rape by
landlords. According to the International Labour
Pultalingamma, aged 45 (interviewed in Organization's Convention No. 182, on the
1999), has worked as a bonded labourer in Worst Forms of Child Labour (1999),
India for more than 25 years. a child includes anyone under the age of
'My husband died five years ago as a bonded
18, with no exceptions (Article 2) (Brown
labourer. Now I bear the responsibility of
2001, 5). The definition of the worst forms
of child labour includes:
repaying both of our loans / go to work at
6am, cleaning the cattle shed and performing all forms of slavery or similar practices,
domestic chores in the landlord's house. Then such as debt bondage, trafficking, and
I go to work in the fields, and return at the end
forced or compulsory recruitment of
of the day to resume domestic chores. I return
children for use in armed conflict;
home between six and eight pm to cook for my the use of children for prostitution and
own children I will make sure my pornography;
daughter stays in school. I won't let her go the use of children for illicit activities,
and work for the landlord because he will such as the production and trafficking of
"spoil" her.' drugs;
(Anti-Slavery International 1999) all work which is likely to endanger the
The feudal aspect of bonded labour means health, safety, or morality of children
that the person who owes the debt is (Article 3) {ibid).
effectively owned while the debt is held. Although some types of work can
While a man may nominally take a loan contribute positively to a child's develop-
himself, his wife and children may in fact ment as well as providing a vital source of
be included in the contract. The slave- income helping to sustain the child and their
owner sees the slave as there to satisfy all family, millions of children around the
of his needs - labour and otherwise, world are forced into work that is damaging
meaning that women are particularly or extremely exploitative. They are denied
vulnerable to abuse their right to education, and their physical
In addition to women, children are also and mental health - and even their lives -
vulnerable, as they are seen as easy to are put at risk.
control. They are subject to exploitation
that can harm their health and welfare. Gender differences in child labour practices
Work in this category constitutes the worst Exploitative employers often prefer
forms of child labour. children to adults because they are more
Slavery and gender: women's double exploitation 53

vulnerable, easier to control, cheaper, and or no pay and in many cases they sleep
less likely to demand better working where they work. Roushan [not her real
conditions and higher wages. Most working name], now 14, was trafficked from
children around the world work in Bangladesh to India when she was ten
agriculture, although the single largest years old. She was taken to the border and
form of employment for girls worldwide is sold to a woman for 500 taka (US$6) who
domestic work in the homes of strangers. then sold her to a bangle factory.
This reflects the general cultural view that 'I didn't know how to make the bangles very
girls are well-suited for employment in well, which caused me to be beaten up. There
domestic work. They also sell food in open were also older girls there who were
markets, and are 'sold off into sex work. threatened that if they didn't work well, they
Boys are more likely to be involved in would bring men who would abuse them....'
farming and animal herding, quarries
(though girls in Nepal also work as stone- Between 100-150 girls and young women
breakers), fishing, and some factory work. were locked in the house where they
In South Asia, however, girls make worked. They worked long hours and slept
bangles, and both boys and girls make there. No beds or pillows were provided,
carpets in small 'factories'. so Roushan slept sitting against the wall,
In some cases the children or their she said (Anti-Slavery 2001).
parents are tricked by traffickers' false
promises of good, well-paid work and Working towards ending
training, in others they are abducted, as is slavery
the case with some child camel jockeys and
the children forced to fight for Uganda's Despite the scale of slavery, change is
main insurgent group, the Lord's Resistance possible. Anti-Slavery International, the
Army (LRA). Boys as young as four from world's oldest international human rights
Pakistan, Bangladesh, and parts of Africa organisation, works at the local, national,
are abducted and taken to the Middle East and international levels to eliminate forms
to be camel jockeys. Desired because they of slavery around the world.
are small and light, they are not paid. At the international and national levels,
Before a race, they are deprived of food to Anti-Slavery presses governments that are
keep them as light as possible. There are not enforcing existing legislation to
examples of abuse, severe injuries, and implement it. International and domestic
death. laws prohibiting slavery do exist. Key
In northern Uganda, abducted children international standards include the 1948
- boys and girls - are believed to constitute Universal Declaration of Human Rights,
90 per cent of the LRA (Coalition Against which applies to all United Nations
the Use of Child Soldiers 1999, 114). Boys member states. It prohibits the practice of
are used for fighting, looting villages, and slavery in all of its forms. The UN
abducting other children. Girls, who are Supplementary Convention on the Abolition
also trained as soldiers, are mainly of Slavery, the Slave Trade, and Institutions
distributed to LRA soldiers as sex slaves (or and Practices Similar to Slavery (1956),
'wives') (op. cit., 115). If they refuse, they which most states have ratified, and the
are killed. International Labour Convention No. 29
Children who work away from their concerning Forced or Compulsory Labour
families are particularly vulnerable because (1930), form the key international
they are under the complete control of their instruments banning bonded labour.
employer. They work long hours for little But the lack of political will to enforce these

laws and develop or implement domestic Conclusion

legislation allows such slavery as bonded
labour to continue. If the elimination of slavery is to be
Children are further protected under effective, viable alternatives need to be
Article 32 of the UN Convention on the made available for freed slaves, and the
Rights of the Child (1989) which states: issue of poverty needs to be addressed.
'States Parties recognize the right of the In Nepal, where in 2000 the government
child to be protected from economic declared bonded labour illegal, thousands
exploitation and from performing any of freed bonded labourers were forced off
work that is likely to be hazardous or to the land. They have had to live in makeshift
interfere with the child's education or to be camps, on roadsides, and in forests because
harmful to the child's health or physical, the government has both failed to provide
mental, spiritual, moral, or social develop- assistance and to allocate land despite its
ment.' In 1999, the International Labour promises. As a result their freedom has
Organization's Convention No. 82 on the little meaning.
Worst Forms of Child Labour defined Slaves need to be empowered to free
which of 'the worst forms of child labour' it themselves. This is particularly relevant in
is an absolute priority to eradicate. Anti- the case of women and girls who are
Slavery International works with local enslaved and who live in societies where
partner organisations around the world to women have low social status. In such
encourage governments to ratify and situations it can be effective to challenge
implement this measure. society's views of women and girls, as well
In cases where legislation does not exist, as providing training programmes and
we urge governments to develop workable poverty alleviation schemes to empower
laws and advocate for their enforcement. In women and develop their confidence in
many cases, slavery such as bonded labour themselves.
and the practice of using children as The forces of poverty, marginalisation,
domestics or to sell items in the market is and social complicity which lead to exploit-
so established it is not perceived to be a ation need to be addressed if slavery is to
problem. Raising awareness in the countries be eliminated. Solutions must take into
concerned is crucial if the public is to account the super-exploitation of women,
support initiatives to end this abuse. There particularly where families are enslaved,
are a number of examples where raised and also the underlying low status of
awareness has led to significant changes. women in many countries, which helps
Anti-Slavery's partner in Togo, WAO provide the conditions in which slavery
Afrique, for example, has enabled can flourish.
communities to realise the dangers of child
Beth Herzfeld is Press Officer at Anti-Slavery
domestic labour by educating employers
International, Thomas Clarkson House,
and children about children's rights. It also
The Stableyard, Broomgrove Road, London,
provides former child domestics with
SW9 9TL, United Kingdom.
training to give them alternatives and to
help them to avoid abusive employment.
Slavery and gender: women's double exploitation 55

Anti-Slavery International (1999) Interview Coalition Against the Use of Child Soldiers
with Pultalingamma, April, India: Anti- (1999) The Use of Child Soldiers in Africa:
Slavery International A Country Analysis of Child Recruitment
Anti-Slavery International (2000) Reporter, and Participation in Armed Conflict,
Series VIII, 6:1, January London: Coalition Against the Use of
Anti-Slavery International (2001) Interview Child Soldiers
with Roushan, November, London: Anti- International Labour Organization (ILO)
Slavery International (1996) Press Release, 12 November 1996,
Bales, Kevin (1999) Disposable People: New Geneva: ILO
Slavery in the Global Economy, Berkeley: International Labour Organization (ILO)
University of California Press (1999) A New Tool to Combat the Worst
Brown, Pins (2001) The New ILO Worst Forms of Child Labour: ILO Convention
Forms of Child Labour Convention 1999: Do 182, Geneva: International Labour Office
You Know...?, Geneva NGO Group for United Nations (1999) Report of the Working
the Convention on the Rights of the Group on Contemporary Forms of Slavery,
Child Sub-Group on Child Labour, 24th Session, 1999, E / C N . 4 / S u b .
Geneva: Anti-Slavery International 2/1999/17, 20th July, Geneva: United
Nations Economic and Social Council

Half-hearted protection:
what does victim protection really mean
for victims of trafficking in Europe?
Elaine Pearson
Anna (not her real name) was trafficked into forced prostitution from Eastern into Western Europe.
She was 'rescued' during a police raid for being in the country illegally, and at the moment of arrest
was given two choices: either make a statement against the trafficker and gain a temporary right of
residence to stay in that country in order to testify; or else return back to her home country
immediately. In this paper I look at the kind of measures taken in some European Union countries to
protect trafficked persons,1 particularly regarding temporary rights to stay for victims of trafficking,
and suggest what else needs to be taken into account in order to combat the problem more effectively.

for the purpose of giving testimony and to

magine if victims of rape or torture
could only get medical attention if they receive various support services during
agreed to co-operate with the police in that time. For those who do not testify
prosecuting their abusers? Why then is however, options are generally limited to
Anna's ultimatum still the standard returning home.
approach by law enforcement officials to Particularly for women, the 'option' of
situations of trafficking throughout the returning home presents a myriad of
world today? With the introduction of a problems. The sexual violence suffered by
new United Nations Protocol to Prevent, many trafficked women increases their
Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, need for immediate protection and support
Especially Women and Children 2 in such as medical care, counselling, and legal
December 2000, trafficking in people, advice. Another consideration is the effect
especially women and children is an issue of moral attitudes towards sex, in their
increasingly on the national agenda of countries of origin. In Anna's case, for
governments everywhere. Much of this example, her family was unaware that she
attention has focused on creating new laws had been trafficked into prostitution. She
or ensuring that current laws are used to knew that if they found out that she had
prosecute traffickers for their crimes. been forced to work as a prostitute she
Protecting the interests of those who are would be shunned by her family and her
trafficked has been a secondary priority, entire community at home. Thus, it is
and for the most part has been prioritised important to bear in mind the specific
only insofar as victims are aiding issues raised for women, who are a
prosecutions. In Europe, for example, majority of those trafficked.
several countries have laws allowing
trafficking victim-witnesses to be given the
right to stay in the country of destination
Victim protection for victims of trafficking in Europe 57

Victim protection models: permits for victims of trafficking based on

a right to stay the Belgian model. Again, the objective is to
encourage victims to testify against their
In several European countries, such as traffickers.4
Belgium and the Netherlands,3 the focus on
protection of victims has been concerned
with ensuring the temporary right to stay Limitations
for victims. This stemmed from an early While Belgium and the Netherlands have
acknowledgement that a major barrier to certainly led the way by initiating such
successfully securing the conviction of protection mechanisms, some time has
traffickers was the inability or unwillingness passed since the introduction of these
of victims to testify. Victims were being measures in each country. The Dutch law
deported or removed without any was amended in 1988 and the Belgian law
opportunity to report their trafficker, much in 1995. We can now see the clear limitations
less testify in court against them. Their of these measures, and these need to be
unwillingness was due, amongst many addressed in any new proposed measures
things, to the fear of reprisals by the to protect trafficked persons, many of
traffickers against themselves and their whom are women.
family, and also because victims of Firstly, the Belgian and Dutch models
trafficking are often already severely draw a distinction between those who
traumatised. testify and those who do not, with the end
Both Belgium and the Netherlands result that those who testify are 'rewarded'
introduced changes to their immigration (by temporary residence and thus access to
laws to grant all victims a 'breathing space', support services in the country), and those
a period of time during which they could who do not are 'penalised' (by being forced
recover from their ordeal before making a to return home and potentially exposed to
more informed decision about whether or threats or reprisals by the traffickers, or
not to testify against the trafficker. The simply returned into the same conditions
recovery period is 45 days in Belgium, and from which they were originally
three months in the Netherlands. In both trafficked). Undoubtedly, the need for
countries, extended temporary residence protection increases as victims make the
status was offered for those victims who decision to testify against their traffickers,
agree to testify. During the period of stay, but that does not mean that those who do
various support services are made available not testify (out of fear, or because they are
to trafficked persons, such as housing, too traumatised or lack sufficient
medical and legal services, counselling, information) should simply be repatriated.
language and integration courses, financial Secondly, the Dutch and Belgian models
assistance, and in Belgium, the right to are for the most part temporary, tied to the
work. Such measures were instituted duration of the criminal proceedings.
because it was understood that if victims Under Dutch law, there is a right to
were given some time for reflection, and permanent residence on 'humanitarian
provided with appropriate care and grounds', but this has been so narrowly
support, they would be more likely to construed that it is very rarely ever used
report their traffickers. The experience of successfully to attain permanent residence
both countries has shown this to be true, as for trafficked persons. In Belgium, it is
more victims have reported their traffickers possible for a victim to stay longer if the
under the revised laws. prosecution is successful or if s/he proves
The European Union is now considering that s/he has become integrated into
adopting a Directive regarding short term Belgian society. The need for protection

certainly does not end when the trial ends. Ways forward
In a successful case, traffickers may be
sentenced and imprisoned, but the nature The overarching difficulty with the Belgian
of trafficking as organised crime means and Dutch systems for protection are that
that victims or their families are still likely they tend to regard the victim in terms of
to be threatened or attacked by other their use as a witness, as a tool for the
members of the network. For protection to prosecution of the trafficker, and not as a
be effective, whether in country of origin or victim of crime and various human rights
violations who has been severely
destination, it needs to be longer lasting
traumatised and is in need of protection
than the duration of a court case, and it
and support, regardless of her ability to
needs to extend beyond the victim to
include those close to her.
Governments must address the harm to There has been an effort to address this
which trafficked persons are subjected in Italy, where residency rights for victims
when they return home, regardless of of trafficking are based on the victim's need
whether they testify. This harm may range for social protection rather than on a
from actions of the state to actions of the willingness to testify. Under Italy's revised
immigration law (Law 40 of 1998),
individual (the trafficker). It has been
trafficked persons may get a renewable
reported that trafficked women returning
temporary residence permit for six months
to Nigeria from Italy, for example, have
if they participate in an assistance and
been held in detention facilities, forced to
integration programme, regardless of
undergo medical examinations including
whether they report their trafficker to the
tests for HIV/AIDS, and had their faces authorities. In effect, the implementation
and names exposed in the media. The end still shows a tendency for permits to be
result is that families and often entire granted when victims report their
communities ostracise returned trafficked traffickers, but at least it is a step in the
women. In the Ukraine, Anti-Slavery right direction by removing the quid pro quo
International has heard at least one report of residency in exchange for testimony.
of corrupt police, given the task of
'protecting' trafficked women, extorting As countries in the European Union and
money from returned women by threatening elsewhere adopt and amend laws and
to tell their families that they were engaged policies in order to prosecute traffickers
in prostitution. There is the additional and protect victims more effectively, we
need to look closely at what this 'protection'
threat posed by the trafficker or those in
means for trafficked persons. Will it only
their network who may threaten or harm
protect victims in so far as they are co-
the victim and their family. As one victim
operative with authorities and testify
who testified against her trafficker has said,
against their traffickers? How will
'I have moved house three times already,
measures incorporate the specific needs of
but I still get anonymous phone calls trafficked women, especially those suffering
saying, "You owe us. We'll get you." They gender-based violence? How far does
always know where I am. What can the participating in the prosecution process
police do? They do nothing.' empower the victim or further their
interests, and how far does it merely
expose them and their families to increased
danger of reprisals? How can governments
protect victims' families in their country of
origin? And how can the state continue to
protect and support victims in the long term?
Victim protection for victims of trafficking in Europe 59

We need to address all of these questions if References

we are to ensure that trafficked persons'
human rights are protected and promoted Advocacy Net (2000) 'Deportation
once they are free from their trafficker. backfires', in Trafficking in Women: Girls
for Sale - Building a Coalition to Fight
Trafficking in Nigeria,
Elaine Pearson is the Trafficking Programme
Officer for Anti-Slavery International. She is http: / / cpage_
currently conducting a two-year research study view / nigtraffick_deportation_6_36.html
into victim protection measures related to (last checked by author 12 February 2002)
trafficking in ten countries. Berlin Senate Department of Labour,
E-mail:; Vocational Training and Women's Affairs (1998) 'European Strategies to
Prevent and Combat Trafficking in
Women', proceedings of an International
Notes Conference Commemorating the Inter-
national Day of Action Against Violence
1 The term 'trafficked persons' is used
Against Women, 25-6 November, Berlin
throughout this paper to indicate that
men, as well as women, are trafficked. Niesner, E. and C. Jones-Pauly (2001)
However, the vast majority of those who Trafficking in Women in Europe:
are trafficked are indeed women. Prosecution and Victim Protection in a
2 This is attached to the United Nations European Context, Bielefeld: Kleine
Convention against Transnational Verlag
Organized Crime. The Trafficking
Protocol has been signed by 100
countries to date.
3 Austria and Germany also have similar
provisions, but shall not be considered
in this paper.
4 For further information on victim
protection models, see Berlin State
Department of Labour, Vocational
Training and Women's Affairs (1998)
and Niesner and Jones-Pauly (2001).

NGO responses to
trafficking in women
Marina Tzvetkova
As trafficking worldwide has become increasingly more sophisticated and widespread, some
governments are implementing new legislation, hosting international conferences, and signing new
and existing conventions. The United Nations (UN) and other Inter-Governmental Organisations
(IGOs) are dedicating substantial resources to developing more effective solutions. However, the
relative absence of government initiatives and assistance for trafficking victims, means that it is
NGOs who have taken up the challenge of organising locally, nationally, and internationally to
advocate for and meet the needs of victims, despite their limited resources. This article provides an
overview of NGO activity against trafficking in women for sexual exploitation. It is based on an
exploratory study undertaken by the Change Anti-Trafficking Programme (ATP) in 2001.
The article explores why NGOs are well-placed to work with women victims of trafficking, and their
responses to the growing phenomenon in countries of origin and destination. It presents a regional
overview of NGO initiatives, and concludes by discussing some of the main obstacles faced by NGOs
in combating trafficking for sexual exploitation, and women's and children's vulnerability to
slavery-like practices.

The scope of NGOs

ver the past decade many
organisations - governmental, Despite their limited resources, funding,
non-governmental and inter- training, and access to information, most
governmental - have launched programmes NGOs studied take the lead in combating
to address the problem of trafficking of trafficking in their respective countries.
women for sexual exploitation. In order to Their anti-trafficking activities, objectives,
identify these programmes, in 2001 the and orientation are linked to the social and
cultural background of their respective
Change Anti-Trafficking Programme (ATP)
countries and regions, and reflect local
conducted an exploratory study of NGO
patterns of trafficking. NGO histories and
anti-trafficking activity in countries of relationships with governmental institutions
origin, transit, and destination. ATP vary, as does their scope to contribute to
collected and analysed data received from social change and development. For
147 organisations representing 64 countries, example, most NGOs in Eastern Europe
in response to a short questionnaire sent to emerged at a time of total social instability
857 organisations in Asia, Africa, Latin in the 1990s, a period characterised by
America, Europe, North America, the poverty, social change, economic restrictions,
Middle East, and the Pacific region. The inflation, and unemployment. Independent
findings are summarised in this article. NGO culture was new for peoples who,
Analysis of additional information on a until then, had been used to totalitarian
further 300 organisations collected through state structures. Many NGOs faced
literature reviews, networking, and internet difficulties dealing with the remains of the
searches is also included. outdated and oppressive social system, and
the absence of a legislative framework or
administrative regulations to legitimise
NGO responses to trafficking in women 61

their work. A lack of experienced personnel not a homogeneous group with similar
and limited capacity constituted further interests. Their diversity is reflected in the
challenges, with skills in project manage- interests and issues they promote. Many
ment, fundraising, and networking largely women's organisations have worked to
absent. These weaknesses and inexperience raise understanding of the importance of
were manifested at a time when traffickers gender roles and relations in the national
were becoming increasingly predatory and and international arena through their work
better at circumventing legal restraints. on issues such as violence against women,
A wide range of local, national, and promotion and protection of women's
international groups and individuals are human rights worldwide, and women's
involved in anti-trafficking work: women's, access to democracy and economic
human rights, and development organi- decision-making. Despite the high profile
sations, social services and law enforcement of gender within the development and
agencies, refugee groups, academic human rights sectors over the past ten
institutions, and other professionals. There years, not all NGOs are intrinsically
are varied approaches toward particular gender-sensitive. Some have a more
problems related to trafficking: different conservative agenda.
measures and services are required Despite cultural, political, and
depending on the cultural context, country geographical differences, the work and
laws and policies, resources, and the services provided to victims and survivors
support of local institutions and society. of trafficking by NGOs have some common
features. Support for victims often includes
WhyNGOs? social and psychological assistance, shelter
NGOs are often viewed as being the provision, financial, return, and reinte-
'conscience of government', and represen- gration assistance, telephone advice and
tatives of civil society, and have traditionally counselling, housing, vocational training,
stepped in where governments have failed legal advice, and documentation assistance.
to take the initiative. Trafficking is no
exception. NGOs are well-placed to work
with trafficked women for several reasons. NGO responses to
Many trafficked persons fear and distrust- trafficking in countries of
state-based organisations as they frequently
enter destination countries illegally, or
have had their documentation removed on Survivors of trafficking are referred to
arrival. Concerns over their immigration support services administered by local
status, fear of deportation, and fear of the NGOs on repatriation. NGOs in countries
traffickers, torture, death, and being of origin are largely involved in assisting
pressurised to testify translate into mistrust women on their return. They meet them at
and reluctance to approach statutory the airport and provide them with first aid,
agencies for support. Corrupt officials and emergency housing, food and other supplies,
the involvement of the police and other law medical care, and immediate psychological
enforcement officials can increase distrust. assistance. In some cases they help women
Many female victims prefer to discuss to contact their families, or may contact the
their situation in a more gender sensitive families directly. For example, La Strada-
environment. For this reason, women's Bulgaria sometimes meets parents in
NGOs have often been the first line advance of a trafficked woman's return to
of action - raising awareness, lobbying explain the situation, and will pay for
for change, and providing assistance. parents to come and meet their daughter.
It is important to emphasise that NGOs are NGOs in origin countries have limited

capacity to provide all the basic needs of Many trafficked women experience
returning trafficked survivors. Therefore, complex post-traumatic stress disorders,
they must work in co-operation with other and require psychological assistance or
professionals and organisations. Most hospitalisation. Many of the NGOs
NGOs contacted by ATP reported that they identified in our study offer free
had formal or informal referral systems, counselling services or run counselling
often based on extensive networking and centres. Counselling centres provide a safe
personal resources. The complex needs and and supportive environment for female
situations of trafficked women require survivors where they can share their
effective, well-established systems of experiences and receive non-judgemental
referral. support and understanding. Work with
Few local organisations are able to victims experiencing severe trauma is
provide shelter to victims of trafficking difficult and requires trained specialists
(Durand et al. 2001). Temporary shelters are working under close supervision. No
often funded by international agencies and survivor of trauma can recover alone
administered by local NGOs, but long-term (Herman 1994). Organisations that offer
accommodation is seldom available due to psychological counselling to victims often
insufficient funds and resources. Some have to deal with the other immediate
shelters are primarily intended for local practical problems that the women may
women survivors of domestic violence, have (such as housing, food, medical
with the places for trafficking victims being assistance, and safety). There is a danger
exceptional and very limited. Local NGOs that the continued social and psychological
resort to emergency accommodation such problems experienced by women
as renting flats or booking hotels for survivors, if not immediately or adequately
women to stay in temporarily before they tackled by counsellors, will prevent them
go home to their towns or villages. The from trusting service providers and from
need for a long-term solution to the continuing as clients of the respective
problem of providing safe accommodation service for the time necessary for them to
for female survivors is crucial, particularly recover.
considering the fact that while some Legal assistance in countries of origin is
women are happy to return to their essential in cases where women want to
families, in many cases this is a dangerous instigate legal action against their trafficker.
or inappropriate solution. NGOs can offer legal advice and liaise with
Assistance to trafficked women requires the respective law enforcement institutions
substantial financial resources, and NGOs on women's behalf. However there is little
have limited capacity to offer financial that NGOs can do to protect the victim and
support. In some countries, women cannot her family if she decides to testify in court,
access state support and benefits, either since witness protection is a prerogative of
because such benefits are unavailable or the state. Very often, traffickers are local
very limited, or because women are not people, who know the victim and her
registered with the social security system. family. If the trafficker or their associates
Often, returned survivors of trafficking do are not in detention, there is nothing to
not have appropriate documents, or are prevent them from seeking vengeance.
minors, in which case their parents or Re-integration assistance is an area of
family may take responsibility for them, increasing concern that NGOs cannot
even though their family may have been approach in isolation. Financial support,
involved in their trafficking in the first community support, and state and
place. institutional support are essential to
NGO responses to trafficking in women 63

prevent women from becoming victims NGO responses to

again. Without sufficient support for trafficking in countries of
recovery from their traumatic experiences, destination
women face difficulties regaining control
over their lives and re-integrating into Much of the support for trafficked women
society. The re-integration process cannot in destination countries takes the form of
be carried out by a single NGO, although outreach work with sex workers, practical
some Eastern European and Asian NGOs assistance to women who have managed to
put a lot of effort into assisting survivors in escape trafficking, and training initiatives
for women who have been granted permits
this area of work. The reality is that re-
to remain.
integration in countries of origin is
Shelter in countries of destination is
confined to a small number of cases. Some
provided to women who have escaped
rehabilitation programmes are funded by from trafficking situations or who have
the International Organisation of Migration been rescued by the police and granted
(IOM) or other international organisations, temporary residence permits to decide
and implemented by local organisations. whether to testify against their trafficker.
Despite these difficulties, some NGOs do Shelter provision can be controversial.
assist women. In Asia we have identified There is a need for a safe place under police
small grant programmes for women protection where women survivors of
survivors of trafficking or women and girls trafficking can be accommodated. However,
at risk. They assist them in developing their women who hold the status of illegal
own business or continuing their education immigrant, or who have been involved in
(Durand et al. 2001). In some Eastern illegal prostitution, will be fearful of
European countries, NGOs organise coming to a police shelter since they risk
vocational training and other courses for detention. Those who wish to escape from
women survivors. Nevertheless, compre- prostitution, but do not want to return to
hensive re-integration strategies in their country of origin, cannot benefit from
accommodation provision if they hold the
countries of origin do not exist because of
status of illegal immigrants. Trafficked
insufficient social security funds and
women who have decided to continue to
limited resources. Re-integration also work as prostitutes indepen-dent of pimps
requires improving the economic and social and brothel owners will be unable to access
conditions of women, and the efforts of shelter services. Shelters may also be an
various professionals and institutions to inappropriate solution for them.
this end. In many patriarchal societies, such Social services provided to trafficking
as Albania, Bangladesh, Iran, and others, it victims often include social, psychological,
is very difficult for women to re-integrate and medical advice and assistance. Again,
into their communities, as their options are women can only access these services when
very limited (Association for Community they are rescued after police raids or
Development 2001). Community-based passport checks and referred by the police,
approaches to the sensitisation of society or occasionally if they manage to escape
to gender and human rights issues from trafficking themselves or with the
therefore become an essential part of the help of clients.
re-integration process. Outreach work carried out by NGOs in
destination countries can be an effective
way to reach trafficked women. Illegal
immigrants are often not aware that

support services are available, or are afraid who wish to testify against their traffickers
to seek help. Those kept in isolation or in court. However, women often refrain
imprisonment are often unable to meet any from testifying in court against their
external contacts apart from their clients traffickers. There are complex reasons for
and pimps. Many social and medical this, including the fear that they or their
service providers use outreach workers to relatives may be in danger of retaliation
talk directly to women on the streets. It can attacks. This is reinforced by weak or non-
take time for such workers to convince existing witness protection schemes.
trafficked women that they are not linked Current legislation on migration also
to immigration services or the police. discourages trafficked women to take the
Outreach work is usually organised around risks of testifying. Often, even survivors
health education and medical services for who wish to testify find it very difficult to
women in prostitution. Sometimes discuss what happened to them.
information in different languages is Sometimes it may take considerable time
circulated so foreign women can find out before women are able to talk about their
about the services available. Many experiences.
organisations employ foreign women as In cases where women are granted
outreach workers or translators. Outreach residence permits, NGOs in co-operation
service providers frequently work to try to with social services in countries of
empower women who are already in destination can commence the difficult
prostitution so that they are able to take process of assisting women to integrate
care of themselves. into the host community. Common
Legal and administrative support is assistance measures include provision of
provided by NGOs to help trafficked counselling, housing, social and financial
women to deal with local authorities, support, and vocational and language
immigration, and police. They may support training. A network of organisations
trafficking victims in court, provide legal participate in the integration process. Some
advice and documentation assistance, and of them do not work specifically with
produce and disseminate information on trafficked women, but assist migrants in
the rights of migrant and trafficked general.
women. Foreign women in destination For women who wish to return to their
countries often possess false passports or home countries, some NGOs in destination
none at all. They are particularly countries offer assistance through organising
vulnerable where they do not speak the and paying for travel, providing support
language of the country, or are not aware while a woman is awaiting to being
of their rights. Even in Italy, the repatriated, liaising with the embassy of
Netherlands, or Germany, where police her home country, and arranging the
could help them contact relevant NGOs for necessary travel documents for her. In
assistance, trafficked women are afraid of special cases, representatives of these
escaping because they fear detention as organisations escort women to their country
illegal migrants, and punishment by the of origin.
NGO assistance is very much dependent NGOs' role in prevention,
on the national legislation on trafficking
and the immigration policies of host
lobbying, and research
countries. Some European countries, such Many anti-trafficking organisations in
as Germany and the Netherlands, have origin and destination countries play an
introduced short stay permits for women important role in research, prevention,
NGO responses to trafficking in women 65

advocacy, and awareness-raising. Prevention the Philippines and Thailand), Latin America
activities carried out by NGOs include (Brazil, Colombia, and the Dominican
information campaigns, gender education Republic), and Africa, particularly West
in schools, vocational training for women, Africa. In East and South-East Asia, the
training teachers and school advisers to main countries of origin are Thailand,
recognise those at risk, and facilitating China, the Philippines, Burma /Myanmar,
women at risk to access employment and Vietnam, and Cambodia, while Japan is a
career development opportunities. major country of destination (Human
An important component of prevention Rights Watch 2000). Asian women are sold
work in origin countries is the tackling of to North American brothels, and are
gender stereotypes, and increasing trafficked to Australia and increasingly to
sensitisation on themes related to violence the Middle East and Gulf States. The
against women and women's rights. NGOs following are some of the most interesting
in destination countries publish findings that emerged from our research.
educational materials for migrant women,
and provide training and technical and Asia
financial assistance to their partners from In Asia, trafficking in women has been a
the countries of origin. serious problem for years. Consequently, a
wide range of local and international NGOs
International and local NGOs have
provide services to Asian trafficking
carried out valuable lobbying and
awareness-raising work in bringing
Most NGOs contacted by ATP were
trafficking issues to the attention of
from origin countries. Organisations such
governments, and advocating for the need
as Maiti Nepal, Action Aid India, and
to treat trafficking as a human rights
Foundation for Women Thailand administer
violation. Many local and international
or support rehabilitation centres where
organisations are active in writing women can have access to counselling
recommendations for legislation and policy services, legal and medical assistance, or
developments, and participating in political where referral to these services is available
forums. (Durand et al. 2001). Asian NGOs also carry
out preventative work in their local
Regional overview of NGO communities, and initiatives to promote
women's and children's rights. Activities
responses to trafficking include educational programmes for
For ATP's research, organisations in women and girls at risk, vocational training
countries of origin, transit, and destination for women, and administration of grants
were sent a questionnaire focused around and loans for women who want to start
two basic questions about what services their own businesses.
were being provided, and which activities Maiti Nepal co-ordinates diverse social
developed. services for both women and girl victims of
Trafficking in women and girls is trafficking, and potential victims of
widespread and global, but there are trafficking. It has three Prevention Camps
different country-specific and regional where children at high risk are given
trends. Eastern Europe is both a region of information on what trafficking is. They are
origin and destination for trafficking, with trained in different skills for a period of six
the Balkans one of the important destination months, and later provided with micro-
points. Western Europe is the main region funds to ensure sustainability. Maiti Nepal
of destination for women trafficked from also has transit homes for short stays in the
Eastern European countries, Asia (mainly border areas, and a rehabilitation and

protection centre which ensures that girls A few organisations work in partnership
have a safe place to live. They attend a with NGOs in Asia and Eastern Europe,
nearby school and return each night to the providing them with technical and financial
centre, where there is an emphasis on assistance. They also carry out training
improving their health and education. initiatives for partners' members and local
judiciary and criminal justice systems. The
Africa framework of these partnerships is to
Despite the seriousness of the problem in develop culturally-sensitive responses to
Africa, trafficking in women is not the prevention of trafficking or the
recognised as an issue of primary concern provision of assistance to trafficked
amongst the other development problems women.
that Africa faces. Organisations in Africa
focus on violence against women, and The Pacific
gender and development. Legal assistance In the Pacific region we had respondents
and primary support is provided to women from Australia, the Fiji Islands, the
victims of diverse forms of violence Philippines, and New Zealand. Australia
including trafficking. African NGOs also and New Zealand are major destination
undertake public education and awareness countries for Asian women. In the Fiji
campaigns on issues related to trafficking. Islands, the Labasa Women's Forum co-
ordinates direct services to women as well
Latin America as developing prevention, education, and
Latin America was the most difficult region awarenessness-raising strategies. The Fiji
to contact in relation to anti-trafficking Women's Rights Movement runs a gender,
initiatives. The main feature of the Latin employment, and economic rights project,
American NGOs working on trafficking is which focuses on women migrant workers
that they aim at broader issues such as including trafficking. In the Philippines
prostitution, and human rights of migrants there is a national alliance of women's
and children. In fact, most organisations organisations called Gabriela. Gabriela is
contacted viewed trafficking as a secondary made up of 42,000 members from 250
issue related to prostitution, sexual organisations, institutions, and women's
exploitation, or illegal migration. Most desks or programmes within other
NGOs work directly with women - institutions. Gabriela launched the Purple
migrants or prostitutes - providing social Rose Campaign, an international campaign
services, psychological and legal assistance, against the sex trafficking of Filipino
and counselling. women and children. The campaign is a
massive public information and education
Western Europe and North America strategy intended to raise public
Western European and North American consciousness of sex-trafficking issues, to
organisations are more active in research, provide services to sex-trafficked women,
advocacy, and lobbying. They implement and to organise the survivors.
public awareness and advocacy campaigns
nationally and sometimes internationally. Middle East
Many organisations develop strategies for Despite difficulties in eliciting information
improving and enforcing national and from the Middle East, ATP discovered that
international laws related to trafficking. For a network to protect trafficking victims is
this reason, they carry out research on being developed in the region, mainly
sexual exploitation, and the links between through voluntary work and without much
prostitution and trafficking in women and governmental support. The responses from
children (Parker 1998; Farley et al. 1998). the Middle East highlight two important
NGO responses to trafficking in women 67

trends in the region. Firstly, the Middle tended to focus on introducing and
East is a major destination area for implementing new and existing legislation
trafficked women. Secondly, there is a and hosting conferences. Recently,
widespread lack of legal provision to governments have begun to provide
address the issue. This significantly affects variable amounts of funding for a range of
the work of local organisations. In this practical anti-trafficking initiatives.
respect, in Israel, research and publications NGOs face considerable barriers in
are used in particular to raise awareness combating trafficking for sexual exploitation.
about the inadequacy of legal provisions Some of these difficulties arise from the
that treat victims of trafficking as 'illegal lack of a strong political will to confront
aliens', and place them in detention and address the problem. Governments,
(Amnesty International 2000). NGOs, police, and law enforcement
personnel need to work together to combat
Eastern Europe trafficking. Government will and effort is
The diversity of anti-trafficking activities integral to addressing both the supply and
within Eastern Europe is indicative of the demand factors that underlie and fuel
extent to which the region is affected by trafficking.
trafficking. Two important areas of work There is also very little attention paid to
include a wide range of prevention gender issues within decision-making
initiatives and work on rehabilitation and processes and with regard to policy
re-integration of women survivors of formulation and service provision, yet
trafficking (La Strada-Czech Republic gender inequality is a major factor
2001). The La Strada network, active in contributing to the problem of trafficking of
eight countries in the region, raises women for sexual exploitation. In addition,
awareness and educates local communities, strong social and cultural constraints mean
professional networks, and vulnerable that addressing unequal gender relations
groups of women and girls about the risks and the social construction of women's
of trafficking. La Strada-Poland has roles is difficult. These barriers and
produced a video, 'You Have [a] Right to constraints severely limit the contributions
Dream, You Have [a] Right to Know', which that NGOs can make to addressing both
tells the story of a trafficking victim. It was supply and demand factors of trafficking.
disseminated in several countries and used Prevention measures aimed at raising
as a part of lectures in many schools in awareness of trafficking, risk recognition,
Poland, Ukraine, and Bulgaria. The vulnerability avoidance, and support
International Organisation of Migration networks are essential components of any
(IOM) organised information campaigns in anti-trafficking strategy. Long term
south-eastern Europe. Various projects in prevention initiatives require that we
Romania, Bulgaria, Kosovo, and Ukraine confront and address the gender roles and
are being developed to assist rehabilitation relations that exist (albeit in different
of women survivors of trafficking (Reaching forms) in every society and manifest
Out 2000; Minnesota Advocates for Human themselves in discriminatory practices and
Rights 2000; Animus Association 2001). limited opportunities for girls and women
at home and the workplace. It means
ensuring that women have access to viable
Conclusion economic opportunities as well as political
Our research suggests that much of the decision making within their countries of
anti-trafficking work that addresses the origin. Gender analysis in support of
needs of trafficked victims and those at risk prevention would provide a useful
is undertaken by NGOs. Governments have approach for tackling trafficking issues.

An additional concern is the inadequate References

focus placed on the 'demand' side of
trafficking for sexual exploitation. Amnesty International (2000) Human Rights
Although anti-trafficking experts are Abuses of Women TraffickedfromCountries
divided in their considerations of the harm of the Former Soviet Union into Israel's Sex
caused to women by the sex industry, there Industry, London: Amnesty International
Animus Association (2001) Trafficking in
is a general consensus that the sex industry
is expanding rapidly worldwide. Unless Women: Questions and Answers, Sofia:
there is political will to address the Animus Association
connections between this and trafficking,Association for Community Development
NGOs can essentially only hope to dress (ACD) (2001) 'Paradigms of Women
the wound with a sticking plaster. Trafficking in Bangladesh', Bangladesh:
Marina Tzvetkova is Programme Officer at Durand, T., V. Lattuada, M. Tzvetkova, and
CHANGE, Anti-Trafftcking Programme, Bon A. Plakantonaki (2001) Anti-Trafficking
Marche Centre, 241-51 Ferndale Road, London Programme, Preliminary Study Report,
SW9 8BJ, United Kingdom. London: Change
Tel: +44 (0)20 7733 9928; Farley, M., I Baral, M. Kiremire, and U.
E-mail: Sezgun (1998) 'Prostitution in five
countries: violence and post-traumatic
stress disorder', Feminism and Psychology
8(4): 405-26
Herman, J.L. (1994) Trauma and Recovery,
from Domestic Abuse to Political Terror,
London: Pandora
Human Rights Watch (2000) Owed Justice,
Thai Women Trafficked into Debt Bondage
in Japan, New York: Human Rights
La Strada-Czech Republic (2001) Final
Report, Prague: La Strada
Minnesota Advocates for Human Rights
(2000) Trafficking in Women: Moldova and
Ukraine, Minneapolis: Minnesota
Advocates for Human Rights
Parker, J. (1998) How Prostitution Works,
http:/ /
parker-how.html (last checked by the
author October 2001)
Reaching Out (2000) Annual Activity Report
2000, Romania: Reaching Out

A tale of two cities:

shifting the paradigm of anti-trafficking
Smarajit Jana, Nandinee Bandyopadhyay,
Mrinal Kanti Dutta, and Amitrajit Saha
T7n's article examines the issue of trafficking from the perspective of some sex worker organisations in
India and Bangladesh. It argues that inequality between classes, genders, and nations is the root
cause of trafficking, and that the solution to the problem lies in a political struggle for the rights of
marginalised people. To substantiate these arguments, this article draws on the life stories of
trafficked people, and on the preventative anti-trafficking initiatives of sex workers' organisations. In
order to understand the ways in which trafficking violates people's rights and restricts their control
over their lives we need to focus on the outcomes of trafficking rather than debating.the processes
through which trafficking takes place. Those who have been trafficked should not be perceived as
passive victims of their circumstances, manipulated by others, but as human agents, who can - and
often do -fight to gain control over their lives. The article offers a brief introduction and some
guidance to some of the challenges that NGOs will face in their advocacy work on trafficking issues.

ponder for a minute, it is clear that for both

ver the last decade, the issue of
trafficking has dominated inter- postulations to be true at the same time,
national development debates. The something must be wrong. Either the
ways in which the dominant discourses on definitions or perceptions of trafficking and
trafficking are framed are based on certain the estimates of its volume must be
assumptions and beliefs which have now mistaken, or the types of anti-trafficking
come to be taken as the 'truth', without initiatives intended to address it have been
being challenged. These discourses usually ineffective. In this article we present our
define trafficking as a process where a own understanding of this issue, based on
person loses control over their own life; our experiences of working with sex
they equate sex work to trafficking, and workers' organisations running anti-
stress the restriction of movement of trafficking programmes.
weaker and vulnerable sections of society.
Police rescue and so-called 'rehabilitation'
initiatives become the cornerstone of most Redefining trafficking
of the programmes arising out of this In order to have an impact on trafficking
thinking. At international conferences on we need to focus on two courses of action,
trafficking, as well as in the popular media, namely, exploring the root causes of
those who are involved in anti-trafficking trafficking, and recognising the positive
efforts contend tenaciously that the role of human agency. Durbar Mahila
trafficking of people across international Samanwaya Committee (DMSC) in
borders has escalated dramatically in the Kolkata, one of the largest organised
last decade. Equally, it is asserted that the groups for sex workers, defines trafficking
funding of activities to curb trafficking has as an outcome of a process where:
also grown exponentially. If we stop to

people are recruited and moved within process that is instrumental in leaving the
or across national borders without trafficked person with little or no option to
informed consent, and coerced into a leave the place or position in which they
'job' or occupation against their will; find themselves. Trafficked persons are
the trafficked individual loses control recruited into various jobs, for which they
over his/her occupation and life. can be made to work without the wages or
the minimum benefits that have to be
People have always left home in search of provided to regular members of the labour
new lives, better livelihoods, or simply to force. If the entire employment market, in
seek adventure. Traditionally, women often both formal and unorganised sectors, could
had to hold back on exploring alternatives be regulated in adherence to national and
because of rigid gender norms and lack of international labour laws protecting the
opportunities. As a result of globalisation, rights of workers, and if all workers were
the realignment of social and cultural conscious of their labour rights, were
relations, and radical changes in the labour organised, and had a role in regulating the
market, mean that more and more women, workplace, the demand for trafficked
who were traditionally confined to the labour would cease to exist.
home, are now seeking alternative, preferred,
and more viable livelihood options
elsewhere. Patriarchal legislation and
DMSC sees this as a positive and controls
potentially revolutionary development,
creating a window of opportunity to Recently, in countries across the world,
challenge existing gender and class more and more stringent laws have been
inequalities. However, existing political introduced to curb trafficking in order to
systems, combined with increasingly protect women. In effect, these laws restrict
stringent anti-immigration national laws in the free movement of women. Bangladesh,
most countries, make such migration which is one of the major labour exporting
hazardous, particularly for poor or countries of South Asia, has enacted a law
marginalised aspiring migrants who are preventing single women from travelling
vulnerable to being smuggled illegally into across its borders. Not only do such laws
the countries they seek to enter. As long as violate the fundamental human right to
the current economic globalisation process mobility, and discriminate against women,
privileges movement of finance capital they also exacerbate the vulnerability of
while restricting the movement of labour or women to being trafficked: where no legal
human capital across national borders, options are available to them, they must
trafficking of people will continue. depend on the illicit options offered by
Women, men, and children are trafficked traffickers. Special booths have been set up
for various purposes, such as marriage, by the state in collaboration with NGOs at
agricultural labour, working in various the borders where women crossing the
informal sector industries, domestic labour, frontier are interrogated in order to verify
participating in dangerous sports such as their identity and to judge whether they
camel racing, recruitment in armed conflict, may be allowed to continue (CARE 2001a).
and for sex work. It is often argued, in several forums,
The most critical element of trafficking that restricting movement across borders,
is not necessarily the process through through new legislation or more stringent
which a person is trafficked, nor the nature implementation of existing laws, prevents
of the job or practices for which the person trafficking. In fact, these kinds of
is trafficked: rather, it is the outcome of that restrictions can work to strengthen the
Shifting the paradigm of anti-trafficking programmes 71

influence of organised crime. The prime It is very critical that we look into the
motivating factor that impels people to issue of participation in this regard. That
move from villages to cities and from one the direct participation of those who are
country to another is their aspiration to trafficked in preventing and ameliorating
improve their life conditions, a basic social the effects of trafficking is both ethical and
instinct that has always shaped human effective has been demonstrated by the
civilisation. If people cannot migrate experiences of the Durbar Mahila
legally, they will resort to illegal Samanwaya Committee (DMSC) in this
mechanisms. Only large, organised criminal regard (Durbar Mahila Samanwaya
networks have the resources and where- Committee 1998, 1999, 2001). Moreover,
withal to bypass strict state control at DMSC's expertise, based on its achieve-
international borders. This in turn leads to ments in the last couple of years, has
the development of ever larger crime already been transferred to other sex
syndicates, as has happened in Eastern worker organisations in Bangladesh.
Stricter border control also increases the
risks for those who are trafficked, as
Tales from two cities: the
traffickers choose increasingly hazardous realities of trafficking and
routes and methods to escape detection. anti-trafficking work
Moreover, such controls expose women to The following stories demonstrate the
greater exploitation because of existing different realities of women trafficked into
gender inequalities and social vulnerabilities. sex work. The reasons why many women
Only global structural political and and girls are trafficked into prostitution
economic changes can create a new include a combination of individualised
scenario where trafficking becomes choices to improve their situation through
redundant. For example, unrestricted seeking better lives and employment
movement of labour across international opportunities in cities and other countries.
borders would mean that a poor Third These choices are not afforded to them
World woman could travel legitimately to a within their own setting due to poverty,
First World market to seek employment, discrimination, inequality, and in some
just as her richer and more qualified cases, gender-based violence.
counter-part is able to. Access to legitimate
avenues of migration would reduce the risk Farzana's story: seeking a better life
of being entrapped by a trafficker. Farzana left her village in 1997, determined
Universal education and equal access to to find new opportunities and a better life.
information would also reduce the risk of She stayed with a friend in a city slum,
potential migrants being deceived by who, after a couple of weeks, found her a
traffickers. job in a garment factory. Within a couple of
When it comes to dealing with those months her supervisor started paying her
who have already been trafficked, no unwelcome attention and finally proposed
attempt has been made to implement a set to her. She did not like him, so she refused.
of standard rules, code of conduct, or self- The supervisor sacked her. The sense of
imposed norms by the NGOs or state liberty and freedom that she had now
agencies who implement rescue and experienced, especially in contrast with the
rehabilitation programmes. Nor has any life she had led before coming to Dhaka
effort been made to enable the participation and working, stopped Farzana from going
of those trafficked in designing a back to her village. She was determined to
programme of rehabilitation. find something better.

She got an offer to work in the The role of human agency: Farzana's
neighbouring town of Narayanganj and aspirations, choices, and risks.
took it up. However, she found herself Farzana's story raises a number of issues.
trafficked into a brothel in Tanbazar.1 She When Farzana left for Dhaka, it was not
tried to run away but was unsuccessful, mere poverty that drove her. She risked
and continued to work as a bonded venturing out into the unknown because
labourer. After a year she paid off her debt she could no longer accept the circum-
to the brothel owner and was free to leave. stances under which she was forced to live
At this juncture she pondered over what to at home. As soon as she had reached
do next. Eventually she decided to continue puberty she was withdrawn from school.
She was not even allowed to study at home
in the sex trade, as many others do.
since her father had decided it would be a
In the middle of one night in 1999, bad investment, as she would eventually
policemen broke open the door of marry into another family. She was not
Farzana's room in the brothel and kicked allowed to play with her friends in the
her out. Along with many other sex fields any longer. All she did was work at
workers, she was pushed into a police van home from dawn until dusk performing
and taken to a remand home. At the repetitive, mind-numbing, and unending
remand home she was persistently abused, household chores. This work would never
physically and sexually. Her only hope for teach her skills that could earn her a living.
getting out of the remand home was to It was her aspiration to break free of the
accept the rehabilitation programme boundaries imposed on her as an
offered by the government. This adolescent Muslim girl in a Bangladeshi
rehabilitation package included 5000 taka in village, and her determination to get more
cash and a sewing machine. Farzana was out of life, that brought Farzana to the city.
The fact that someone who was not
told that if she did not accept the deal she
allowed to leave home could make such a
would have to remain in the home forever.
life-changing move represents a triumph of
She agreed, but then the authorities human agency. The question we have to
stipulated that unless her parents came to confront now is: how far are we ready to
take custody of her, Farzana would not be acknowledge and respect Farzana's human
allowed to leave the home. agency, and accept her right to find her
There was no way Farzana could get in own destiny?
touch with her parents and persuade them In the city, Farzana found a job. For the
to come and 'rescue' her. By this time, first time in her life she was independent.
however, Farzana had learnt that there She acquired new skills and earned money
were people who would pose as her over which she had control. With her co-
parents in exchange for 4500 of the 5000 workers she could walk in the city streets
taka, and the sewing machine. Farzana whenever she wanted. However, when she
came out of the home with many others. decided to extend her new-found autonomy
Having lost all her savings at the time of to thwart the designs of her supervisor, she
the eviction, all she had with her was 500 lost her job.
taka. With 500 taka in her pocket and no Farzana could have returned home at
place to live, she had no other option but to this point. But knowing what awaited her
take to the streets or try and find another there, she did not want to forego her hard-
job in the garments industry. earned freedom. So she desperately looked
for another job. It was at this juncture that
she was trafficked. An agent who had
Shifting the paradigm of anti-trafficking programmes 73

promised to find her another job sold her to was insulted and physically abused. She
a brothel owner, making a tidy profit. The was then imprisoned in a remand home,
brothel owner too made money out of once again finding herself in a situation
Farzana's vulnerability by making her over which she had no control. In addition,
work without wages until she had made she was sexually exploited and abused at
substantial profits over and above the the remand home while under the supposed
money she had invested in procuring protection of the state. Farzana now found
Farzana. herself in a situation no different from the
Until the brothel owner was satisfied one under which she lived when she was
with her profit, Farzana was bonded and trafficked. This raises the question of
could not opt out of the condition she whether forced 'rehabilitation' ought to be
found herself in, however much she seen as trafficking too.
wanted to. It is to be noted that after The government then unilaterally
overcoming the constraints imposed on her decided on a rehabilitation deal for
by social conditions against all odds on two imprisoned sex workers. None of the sex
earlier instances, Farzana, not having any workers were consulted about what they
resource other than her own free will and wanted, completely disregarding their
determination, could no longer surmount agency. Secondly, they were offered no
the material boundaries of her situation. choice in the matter: they were told that if
However, the period of bondage came they did not accept the government
to an end after one year. Once again, package they would have to resign
Farzana was at a crossroads. She had to themselves to life-long imprisonment. The
decide whether to continue working in the government then imposed the additional
sex trade or to take her chances in other job condition that the rehabilitation package
markets. Considering all her options, would be handed over to the sex workers
Farzana decided to continue to work as a only with their parents' authorisation. This
sex worker. At this point, Farzana had infantilised the sex workers, and created
some control over her working conditions the conditions for further exploitation. The
and was free to leave the trade whenever entire exercise clearly demonstrates how
she wanted. any scheme that is designed with no
What needs to be understood is that consultation with the intended users can be
even in such adversity, Farzana managed counter-productive.
to escape from her trafficked conditions. At
this point she can no longer be considered Who is to blame?
to be 'in a trafficked situation'. It is to be Farzana found herself on the streets again,
noted that all trafficking situations are exposed to greater vulnerability than
time-bound and usually do not extend before. We must ask ourselves, is it not the
throughout someone's entire life, or inter- lack of appropriate work environment and
generationally. This has significant conditions in formal and informal sectors,
implications for future anti-trafficking such as the garments industry and the sex
approaches and strategies. trade, that facilitates perpetual exploitation
of the most vulnerable groups? Had there
Farzana's experience offorced been proper protection of labour rights in
rehabilitation the garments industry, Farzana would not
Government policy to evict all sex workers have been sacked at the whim of her
and place them .in a remand home put paid supervisor in the first place. Had there been
to Farzana's prospects. In violation of her adequate trade regulations within the sex
fundamental rights, she was forcibly industry, Farzana or any other sex worker
evicted from her home and workplace. She would not have been made to work

without wages, nor would any brothel shop close to the site. They found out that
owner be allowed to employ trafficked across the border in Barasat the wage rates
labour. In such a case, the need for for construction work were higher, and the
trafficking would not have arisen, as there working hours were shorter. The next
would have been no extra gains to be made season, they paid an agent to help them
from recruiting trafficked persons. The cross the border to Barasat in India without
issue here is, what role did the state play - legitimate papers in order to find work on
or fail to play - in safeguarding workers' a construction site. Monica heard from
rights and securing workplace safety to other female workers that wages in Kolkata
prevent extreme forms of exploitation of were even higher so she started looking for
workers such as Farzana? Is providing ways to find work there. One morning,
workers with some control over their Monica's father found that she had gone.
occupation a more appropriate or effective After nine months Monica came back to
strategy for governments? Satkhira bringing gifts and 5000 taka. She
had been trafficked and sold into the sex
Sofia's story: dealing with HFV industry, where she had worked for four
Sofia, a friend of Farzana's who had also months bonded to the brothel owner who
been evicted from Tanbazar and later had bought her. Once the bondage term
remanded at the same home, decided to was over, she stayed on in the trade working
opt out of the sex trade. She took the help for another brothel owner and sharing her
of an NGO to seek an alternative liveli- earnings with her. Initially, her family and
hood. The NGO put her in a shelter home. neighbours seemed appalled by the fact
Immediately on her arrival, the NGO that she had 'fallen' into prostitution. The
personnel took a sample of her blood, and local religious leader arbitrated that
tested it for HIV without her knowledge or Monica would have to pay a fine of 150 taka
consent. She was found to be HIV positive. to seek re-entry into the community. Once
The NGO personnel informed her of this, she paid this amount, the rest of the
and very quickly, all the staff members of members of the community accepted
the shelter home came to know her status. Monica back.
The rules of the shelter home were that no
Gradually, Monica came to know that
rescued women were allowed to meet and
many women from her locality had gone
communicate with outsiders without prior
through the same process, through which
permission from the official in charge of the
they managed to accumulate considerable
shelter home, and that communication
wealth and improve their living conditions.
could only take place at fixed hours in a
From her savings, Monica bought a piece of
month. This lack of communication meant
land and met the costs of her mother's
that nobody outside of the home knew
treatment for a long-term illness. Now
what was happening to Sofia. After a
Monica is preparing to go back to Kolkata
couple of weeks, Farzana heard that Sofia
to work in the sex industry for a few years
had committed suicide. Her body was not
so that she can support her parents and
even sent for a post mortem examination, a
also save for her future. She is looking for
common practice internationally following
an agent who will take her across the
any unnatural death (Mondol 2001).
border for a fee.
Monica's story: choosing to go back A survey conducted by CARE showed
Monica had come to Dhaka from Satkhira that, like Monica, 22 per cent of women
with her father and younger brother. Her who have experienced trafficking actually
father and brother worked on a construction choose to return to the occupation into
site, and Monica found a job in a small which they were trafficked (CARE 2001c).
Shifting the paradigm of anti-trafficking programmes 75

Why is Monica not afraid of being and inclusion of codes of conduct while
trafficked again? Quite rightly, Monica has dealing with anti- trafficking programmes
identified the real reason for her (CARE 2001b).
vulnerability to being trafficked. It was her
lack of knowledge that made her susceptible
to being deceived and trafficked. Now that DMSC's programme
she knows how the sex industry works and approach
has control over the capital she has, she is Following our principle objective to
confident that she can determine the terms dissociate sex work from all criminal
under which she works. If women at risk of associations, DMSC entered into the arena
being trafficked were provided with of anti-trafficking activities in 1998, and
information of how the market works, and quickly developed a strategy to stop the
were guaranteed control over their trafficking of women and children into sex
working conditions, the possibility of being work in Kolkata. DMSC sees sex work as a
trafficked into slavery-like conditions contractual service, negotiated between
would be hugely reduced. consenting adults. In such a service contract
There are hundreds of Farzanas, Sofias, there ought to be no coercion or deception.
and Monicas, all of whom could tell a As a sex workers' rights organisation,
similar story, if we would only stop to ask DMSC is against any force exercised against
them. In the course of our work in Dhaka sex workers, be it by the client, brothel
and Kolkata, the numerous Farzanas, keepers, room owners, pimps, police, or
Sofias, and Monicas have recounted these traffickers.
experiences to us. To us these narratives DMSC's programme approach is very
raise a number of important questions. simple. Members of DMSC keep a strong
Should we address the process or the vigil in the red light districts through a
outcome of trafficking? Should we be group of volunteers who intercept any new
shocked and horrified by these stories or entrants into the area, make enquiries
concerned with the interests, opinions, and about where they have come from and their
life-strategies of those trafficked? If the relationship with the people accompanying
basic objective of our anti-trafficking efforts them, if any, and thoroughly examine the
is to enhance the well-being of the role of brothel owners and landlords in the
individual and help improve her livelihood process of their recruitment. They can
options, then the role of that individual and effectively stop the entry of any under-age
that of other third parties involved in the woman, or women who are being coerced
individual's rescue and rehabilitation into the trade. They do this in two ways.
should come under thorough scrutiny. Firstly, being in the trade themselves they
The processes of deceit, coercion, and are able to identify cases of trafficking
exploitation, which define trafficking, are much more easily than an outsider could.
not perpetrated by traffickers alone; in the Secondly, as members of a very organised
name of rescue and rehabilitation, agents of labour force in the city, they can exert their
the state and private actors may also power to remove or 'rescue' such women
employ such tactics. There is no code of from the clutches of any unscrupulous
conduct followed by all these agencies to brothel owners and pimps who have
ensure the protection of the rights and procured them. In most cases, trafficked
dignity of the victims while carrying out women are counselled and sent back to
their work. NGOs participating in a their homes or to boarding schools (when
consultative meeting recently held in Dhaka the person is a minor) with the help of the
strongly recommended the development Ministry of Social Welfare, but without

involving the law enforcing authorities in office for counselling and other support.
general. The other volunteers found Mukul lurking
The process is not as simple as it appears in the brothel Madhabi was being taken to,
to be. Contrary to popular belief, the and took him and his friends to the local
people who usually challenge or resist police station. After a brief dialogue, the
DMSC's anti-trafficking interventions are officer in charge asked DMSC members to
not the traffickers, or others with a stake in hand Mukul and Madhabi over in order to
the sex industry. It is the state and its law register a case of trafficking against Mukul.
enforcing authorities who create the The officer argued that without taking
greatest barrier. custody of Madhabi, who was purportedly
being trafficked, no case could be booked
Madhabi's story: 'sacrifice a life' or obey against Mukul. The volunteers returned to
the law of the land? the DMSC office. A debate soon ensued,
As a teenager, Madhabi had fallen in love with other members of DMSC joining in,
with a distant relative, Mukul. Her parents which continued for a couple of hours
did not endorse Madhabi's love affair. without reaching any conclusion.
When her parents insisted that she end her What was being debated was
relationship with Mukul and marry a man Madhabi's fate. Should she be handed over
they had chosen for her, Madhabi ran away to the police in order that Mukul would be
from home with Mukul. They rented a punished, or should she be allowed to
room in the suburbs of Kolkata and started follow a course of action of her own choice?
living together. Mukul had neither income DMSC members knew that putting
nor the skills to find any job in the city. Madhabi in police custody could mean
They managed to survive during the first indirectly 'forcing' her into the sex trade,
couple of months by selling Madhabi's which she did not want to engage in.
jewellery. Usually when a trafficked woman is
One morning, Mukul left home in rescued from the sex trade and put into
search of a job and did not return. Two police custody, the police accommodate her
days later Mukul's friends turned up in the government remand home, which is
saying they had come to take Madhabi to a notorious for corruption and for unofficial
hospital where Mukul had been admitted linkages with the trafficking racket.
following a serious accident. Travelling for In DMSC's experience, the brothel
more than an hour by bus and tram, they owners who recruit trafficked women have
arrived at a place that Madhabi did not a system worked out by which they can
recognise. Confused, she found herself in pay a bribe to the remand home authorities
an unfamiliar street. 'How could it be a in order to have the woman returned to
hospital?', she mumbled. She had never them. They then extract the amount they
seen so many women standing in the street, had invested - often inflating it considerably
talking so loudly. - from the trafficked woman by making her
As she hesitated, Mukul's friends work without wages. Moreover, the
dragged her to the staircase of the nearby process through which Madhabi would
building. At that very moment they heard a have to pass once put in the hands of the
harsh voice from behind asking them to law enforcement system, from police
stop. Unknown to Mukul's friends DMSC custody, to judicial custody, to remand
volunteers had followed them since their home, is both lengthy and hazardous.
arrival into the red light area, finding their The police and the caretakers of the
movements to be suspicious. remand home, are likely to treat her with
Madhabi was brought to the DMSC no dignity, and may sexually abuse her.2
Shifting the paradigm of anti-trafficking programmes 77

At the end of such a process, her already DMSC has reduced the economic
restricted options would be reduced to vulnerability of sex workers and their
none whatsoever. children by running a savings and credit
None of the representatives of the programme through the sex workers' co-
DMSC were inclined to hand Madhabi over operative institution, Usha Multipurpose
to the police. On the other hand, not doing Co-operative Society Limited. It has a
so would result in the traffickers going membership of about 3500, representing
unpunished. This posed the biggest different brothels in Kolkata.
dilemma to the members of the organi- DMSC also trains sex workers from
sation. Their accumulated experience over neighbouring countries in order to make
the period had shown them that they cross-border anti-trafficking efforts more
would have to follow one or other of the effective. It acts in close collaboration with
two possible courses of action. One is to sex workers' organisations and supporting
obey the norms and rules of the state. The NGOs in Bangladesh and Nepal, particularly
other is to respect Madhabi's wishes and in the repatriation of trafficked persons.
take a stand outside the law so as to reverse
the outcome of trafficking for her, and Challenges
enhance her options to improve her life DMSC has faced some major challenges3,
chances. Most DMSC members opted for including strong opposition from law-
the second path. enforcing authorities who criticise DMSC
for taking the law into its own hands and
violating the constitutional boundaries
Sex workers' organisation between the state and civil society.
and action Although DMSC succeeded in creating a
support base within local police institutions,
During the last two years, DMSC has
without which they could not have carried
recovered 47 trafficked women, of whom
out their anti-trafficking activities at the
35 were minors, and taken them to safe
field level, contradictions with the legal
custody. We have repatriated four minors
and judicial system remain. This poses a
from Bangladesh and two from Nepal, and
constant threat to DMSC's intervention in
have helped 12 Indian minors to return
this arena, as its extra-constitutional role
can be used against it.
DMSC runs a primary prevention
programme providing alternative liveli- The broader political context, which
hood training to those who do not want to extends beyond the red light districts but
continue in sex work, as part of its broader profits from the exploitation and trafficking
aim to respect the choices of individuals. of sex workers within the sex industry, has
Training has been provided to 112 started attempting, in various guises, to
adolescents and 32 adults in skills such as oppose DMSC's efforts to stop trafficking
silk-screen printing, toy making, and clay into the sex trade.
modelling. In addition to reducing young The prevalent positions and practices of
adults' vulnerability to sex work, DMSC NGOs, both local and international, also
has in the last year recruited 25 daughters pose a challenge to sex workers' inter-
of sex workers as teachers on their on- ventions in trafficking. This conflict is on
going education programme for sex the one hand an ideological one. Sex
workers and their children. They are workers and trafficked persons who take
provided with on-the-job training, which the initiative to deal with their own
they may later use to seek alternative problems as actors in development, rather
employment. than passive recipients, are challenging the
conventional role of NGOs and the

enlightened middle classes working on against her will; identifying those who
behalf of the poor. On the other hand, there have been trafficked, and encouraging
is an immediate conflict of interest. If more them to seek the help of the self-regulatory
and more sex workers' organisations gain board; trauma counselling of those
the capacity and the confidence to recovered, and providing them with health
implement intervention activities them- services if required; repatriation of those
selves, NGOs will become apprehensive who are recovered, with representatives of
that their role as mediator will gradually the boards accompanying them; establishing
become redundant. ways of keeping in touch with those who
In fact, sex workers' and trafficked are repatriated, with the help of collaborative
persons' demands for the right to self- sex workers' organisations and NGOs in
determination and autonomy represent an their native countries, to ensure that they
ideological challenge not just to the are not stigmatised or re-trafficked.
prevalent development practices by NGOs, It seems to us that this unique approach
but to all discourses that reduce margin- can open up hew ways of designing and
alised people, particularly women, to being implementing anti-trafficking programmes,
submissive victims of their circumstance, and can help us to think through and re-
devoid of human agency, and unable to frame the development discourse and
steer their own destiny unless 'rescued' practice on anti-trafficking programmes
through the benevolence of others. globally.
Self-regulatory boards: a way forward Smarajit Jana is Programme Co-ordinator,
To overcome all these challenges, DMSC HIV Programme, CARE-Bangladesh, and
has been institutionalising the process of Chief Adviser for Durbar. 59, 7A Dhanmondi,
their anti-trafficking interventions through Dhaka 1209, Bangladesh. Tel: +880 2 882
establishing self-regulatory boards. DMSC 4974;+880 2 811 4195-97;
has so far established three local self- E-mail:;
regulatory boards in Kolkata, and is in the
process of setting up similar boards in all
red light areas. Sixty percent of the Nandinee Bandyopadhyay is a consultant in
members of these boards are sex workers, gender, politics, and organisations, and an
and the rest are comprised of local elected adviser for Durbar. Flat 4C, 146 Rash Behari
representatives of the people, represent- Avenue, Kolkata 700 029, India.
atives of the state, legal professionals, and
Tel: +91 33 543 7777; +91 33 543 7560;
medical doctors.
The primary objectives of these boards
are to prevent exploitation and violation of Mrinal Kanti Dutta is Programme Director at
human rights within the sex trade; to Durbar, 1215 Nilmani Mitra Street, Kolkata
initiate comprehensive development 700 006, India. Tel: +91 33 543 7560;
programmes for the sex workers' E-mail:
community; and to ensure the community's
right to self-determination. The boards are Amitrajit Saha works for the National Polio
involved in various programmes such as Surveillance Programme, India, and is an
mitigating violence against sex workers; Adviser for Durbar. Flat 4C, 146 Rash Behari
establishing channels of information within Avenue, Kolkata 700 029, India.
the red light area through which the board Tel: +91 6456 23 390; +91 6456 24 331;
members can monitor whether any E-mail: in
children are being trafficked into sex work
or whether anyone is being made to work
Shifting the paradigm of anti-trafficking programmes 79

Notes References
1 Tanbazar was the largest functioning CARE (2001a) Proceedings of a workshop
brothel in Bangladesh, till July 1999. on 'Cross-border Trafficking Prevention',
In the middle of the night, the Law organised by CARE Bangladesh in
Enforcing Department organised a Dhaka, October 17-18 2001, Dhaka: Care
brutal 'raid' and evicted all inhabitants Bangladesh
of the brothel, some 4500 sex workers. CARE (2001b) Minutes of a consultative
The incident was widely covered in local meeting organised by CARE Bangladesh,
newspapers. Dhaka, 10 September 2001, Dhaka: Care
2 Focus group discussion with DMSC Bangladesh
members, held in their Kolkata office, CARE (2001c) 'Report of Ethnographic
26 November 2001. Study', unpublished report of the Anti-
3 Interview with Angura Begum, Secretary, trafficking Project of CARE-Bangladesh,
DMSC, Kolkata, 27 November 2001. Dhaka: Care Bangladesh
Durbar Mahila Samanwaya Committee
(DMSC) (1998) 'Seven Years Stint at
Sonagachi: DMSC, Human Development,
and Social Action', Kolkata: DMSC
Durbar Mahila Samanwaya Committee
(DMSC) (1999) 'Second State Conference
of the Sex Workers Report: 30th April to
1st May 1999', DMSC: Kolkata
Durbar Mahila Samanwaya Committee
(DMSC) (2001) 'Millennium Milan Mela',
Kolkata: DMSC
Mondol, P. (2001) 'HIV, Death and Justice:
The Dhaka Experience', poster presented
at the 6th ICAAP conference held in
Melbourne, October 2001

Reducing poverty and

upholding human rights:
a pragmatic approach
Meena Poudel and Ines Smyth
Trafficking in women is increasing in many countries around the world. This global problem is now
well recognised by policy makers and aid agencies committed to poverty reduction in all its forms.
This paper considers how Oxfam GB perceives the problem of trafficking of women in the context of
its approach to poverty. It illustrates this position through a case study of a young woman whose
human rights were violated through the process of trafficking, and provides examples of projects and
programs implemented in various regions of the world to address to the underlying causes. Oxfam's
broad trafficking programme objectives are: to promote the fundamental rights of women; to protect
potential victims and survivors of trafficking; to influence national policies, and regional and
international conventions on women's rights and trafficking.

he key argument of this paper is that 'All people are entitled to the rights
Oxfam recognises that debates1 around enshrined in international laws and
the interpretations of what trafficking conventions: social and economic rights, civil
is are important as they influence the kind and political rights, and the right to life
of policies implemented to eradicate the itself, free from fear and persecution. But
problem and support the victims. However, many people are denied these rights as a
Oxfam adopts a principled but pragmatic consequence of neglect or oppression.
approach to the issue. Pragmatic in that it Denying people their rights forces them into
looks at the problem within its socio- poverty and keeps them there.'
economic context. Principled in that it bases (Oxfam 2002)
work in this field on Oxfam's under- In order to maximise its resources and
standing of poverty as a denial of the basic achieve 'maximum impact', Oxfam focuses
rights to which every human being is its policy and programme work on five key
entitled, and on its perception that poverty aims:
is of different kinds, all of which need to be the right to a sustainable livelihood;
understood and eradicated.
the right to health and education;
the right to life and security;
Oxfam GB: poverty, rights, the right to be heard;
and the trafficking of women the right to equity: gender and diversity.
Oxfam GB's mandate is to overcome A concern about the denial of human rights
poverty and suffering. In carrying out this inherent in trafficking fits well within
mandate, the organisation relies on a basic Oxfam's overall understanding of poverty
understanding of poverty which stresses and rights. In addition, Oxfam has prioritised
that: certain areas of work and initiated specific
Reducing poverty and upholding human rights 81

interventions within a global programme to One day the police raided that brothel and I
end violence against women, including that managed to escape. I stayed in the Indian
against trafficked women and girls within Government Observation Home for six
its fifth aim (the right to equity). There is also months. I was taking medicine for
a commitment to work towards 'getting tuberculosis but I could not continue my
institutions right for women and over- medication because I had no money and the
coming discrimination', through which observation did not provide me with any. In
Oxfam tries to reach the institutional roots the end I managed to get back home with all
of biases in policies and practices that
problems but no money.
discriminate against women and against
When I went back home I found out that
women, men, and children on the basis of
my mother had died a year ago. My father
their racial, ethnic, or other identity.
loved me but my village refused to accept me
The case of Niru, 2 a Nepali woman, because I was considered a bad woman.
helps demonstrate the violence, human Village leaders threatened my father that he
rights violations, and gender discrimination had to leave the village if he accepted me. I
that characterise trafficking in women, as returned to Kathmandu and joined a group
well as the role of social institutions such as of survivors of trafficking. Now I am
the family, household, community, labour involved in an anti-trafficking project that
market, sex industry, and the state in raises awareness of trafficking and the
perpetuating this.
consequences to my Nepali sisters. I know I
'A recruitment agent came to my village cannot change my life but I have hope that I
offering jobs and my parents agreed to send can make a contribution to society through
my brother and me. Both of us agreed Shakti Shamuha3 to providing information
because we needed money to pay back our about the dangers to my sisters who are
loan. I came to Kathmandu when I was 12 vulnerable to this crime. My biggest
years [old] to work in a garment factory. I frustration is that I cannot get a citizenship
worked there for a year then a recruiting certificate because of the social rejection,
manager offered me another job in India patriarchal society, and my father being
where I could get more money. They took prevented from recommending me for
five girls including me to India by public citizenship. My father's permission is an
bus. They asked us to stay in a room with a essential requirement. Because of my
. woman and promised to bring us food. They position I cannot take up invitations from
never came back. abroad to visit and establish links with other
I found myself in a brothel. I had been campaigns against trafficking. To me there is
sold for 50,000 Nepalese rupees [US$700]. no country, no system that can protect my
I had to satisfy five to eight clients per night rights, and there is no society where I
but I did not get any money - only two belong. Where are my rights?
meals a day. I spent seven years there and
tried to escape three times but didn't The example is a useful illustration of how
succeed. During that time I could not human rights can be violated in all three
contact my family. stages of trafficking: recruitment, work,
and rescue.
We were 20 girls staying in the same
room. There were few rooms set aside for Recruitment
each girl to serve clients for sex. During my In a typical situation, a woman or girl is
menstruation period the owner used to inject recruited by an agent with promises of
drugs into my thigh before [I went] with [a] a good or better job in another province
client. Initially I had tuberculosis but later I or country, with false documents supplied,
was diagnosed as HIV positive. if required. In extreme cases, girls and

women are abducted. Once recruited or raped and abused in custody. They are also
abducted, many women and girls are forced subjected to forced medical check-ups and
into sex work or controlled through debt treatments, particularly HIV testing. The
bondage. Thereafter, threats and use of legal process is equally arbitrary and
violence, coercion, and torture are not abusive. Women are forced to testify in
uncommon. Basic needs such as food, public in long and demanding legal
medicine, rest, and safe shelter can also be proceedings, with no access to independent
denied to the victim. lawyers. They are often humiliated in court
Abuse of authority by officials within or deported without due process. This
state institutions is another form of violence violates human rights principles such as
that trafficked women face, as is the freedom from torture and arbitrary arrest
violation of their rights to freedom, move- and detention, and the right to protection,
ment, and information during transit. liberty, security, privacy, and a fair and
There is ample evidence that corrupt speedy trial.
officials within the police and immigration Niru's case also illustrates the discrim-
services often exacerbate the experience of inatory role of social institutions. Denial of
those who are trafficked (Asia Watch 1993). citizenship and rejection by the community
Countries can also benefit from tourism not only prevent women such as Niru from
(including sex tourism) and, in the case of taking advantage of limited opportunities
other forms of forced labour, from the for solidarity and for improvements in their
avoidance of paying welfare benefits. They lives, but also raise fundamental questions
are therefore less likely to take a strong about the limited rights that women may
anti-trafficking position. access as citizens, both in countries of
origin and destination.
Niru's case illustrates some of the human
rights violations within a work environment. Working against the
These include violation of contracts, unpaid trafficking of women
labour, unsafe working conditions, lack of
safe drinking water, lack of safe and The realities of trafficked women and girls
sufficient food, unlimited time of work, differ according to country-specific
underpayment, and no right to formal contexts, reflecting the multi-faceted causes
unionised labour. Debt bondage is key to and consequences of trafficking. Oxfam's
the conditions of dependency and slavery engagement with the problem also varies in
in which trafficked women and children different countries and regions, reflecting
live. Other violations include denial of the priorities of partner organisations. The
access to health services, forced use of size of the programme and types of
drugs, and exposure to sexually activities undertaken depend on a variety
transmitted diseases including HIV/AIDS. of factors: country and regional priorities
identified by partners and staff; access to
Rescue necessary resources; and the historical
Human rights may also be violated at the evolution of individual programmes.
rescue stage of the trafficking process. With the exception of small-scale project
Oxfam GB's experience of working with work in the former Yugoslavia and in Latin
trafficked survivors and campaigners in America, most of Oxfam's work on
Nepal shows that often the rescue of Nepali trafficking takes place in Asia. In the UK,
women in Nepal and in India gives cause Oxfam also provides support to the
for concern. Survivors may be illegally Refugee Council (of which Oxfam is a
arrested by police and detained, and even founding member), particularly for
Reducing poverty and upholding human rights 83

information and advocacy work on destroying local people's livelihoods,

international refugee and asylum issues. Oxfam offered support. People in these
One example of this support is a project regions were severely affected. As
Oxfam funded in 1998 for research into livelihoods were destroyed there was little
trafficking and smuggling of refugees, capacity to cope with the serious impacts of
called 'The Cost of Survival'. In addition, a the flooding. Interruption of education,
joint Oxfam GB and NOVIB (Oxfam in the erosion of incomes, and the migration of
Netherlands) project supports research income earners all raised the risk of
into best practice on the integration and trafficking of adolescents. In response,
re-integration of women who are victims Oxfam implemented a programme that,
of trafficking, through a UK-based in addition to funding rehabilitation
organisation and a Dutch NGO. initiatives, focused on agriculture, cash for
Most anti-trafficking activities are work, winter clothes distribution,
carried out through partner organisations rebuilding housing and sanitation, and
and networks, rather than by Oxfam advocacy initiatives to raise awareness and
directly. For example, in Cambodia, Oxfam minimise the risk of trafficking.
supports, among other national agencies, Oxfam GB recognises that the
KWVC and ADHOC. KWVC is an organi- consequences of trafficking of women and
sation that works to promote women's girls are exacerbated by gender biases in
participation and decision-making in institutions. Oxfam GB attempted to
politics, society, and economics. It aims to address this problem through support for
eliminate discrimination against women Naripokkho, a women's organisation
and promote laws to protect women's founded in 1983 that works for the
rights. ADHOC is a local human rights and advancement of women'srights.Naripokkho
development organisation that plays a is a membership organisation undertaking
significant role in rights education, advocacy, research, and training on various
monitoring, advocacy, and lobbying. Both issues related to women's rights and
have programmes that raise awareness of development. Violence against women has
women's and children's rights on issues been a priority concern from its very
like sex trafficking and domestic violence. inception. The program supported by
Bangladesh is one of the many countries Oxfam monitors state mechanisms and
in the world where violence against women tries to institutionalise a process of state
and trafficking are both wide-spread. accountability for the prevention and
Instances of violence against women such reduction of violence against women,
as physical abuse, rape, killing, forced including trafficking.
prostitution, trafficking for sex and sex Examples from Nepal are also useful
tourism, battering, kidnapping, sexual because they demonstrate a more
harassment, and acid-throwing are systematic approach to supporting local
common. Oxfam GB works to fight the organisations to combat trafficking.
causes and consequences of trafficking in
Bangladesh. Oxfam's anti-trafficking
Oxfam's emergency interventions in
Bangladesh often include some provision
work in Nepal
for the prevention of trafficking. For While there has been no systematic
example, after the heavy rains during research to determine the true extent of
September 2000, when water coming from trafficking in women in Nepal, observers
West Bengal resulted in unexpected floods believe that most Nepali women are
in south-west and north-west Bangladesh, trafficked to India, the Middle East, and

other Asian countries primarily for sex with the promise of better education and a
work. It is estimated that there are more job, without informing her family. The
than 200,000 Nepalese women in Indian organisation Gramin Mahila Srijansheel
brothels, with additional tens of thousands Pariwar (an Oxfam partner) managed to
of Nepalese women in other countries who rescue Bimala from Kathmandu and return
have been forced into sex work or other her to her family. While Nanu and her
work in oppressive situations and mother were prosecuted, the real traffickers
inhumane conditions each year (Child escaped justice.
Worker in Nepal Concerns Centre [CWIN] The aim of the Oxfam programme in
1992). Nepal is to reduce trafficking in women
Nepal is beset with many socio- and to work towards making a positive
economic problems, and the extreme impact on the lives of women. In practice,
poverty in some regions facilitates the the programme has increasingly focused on
trafficking of women and girls. More than two aspects of anti-trafficking work:
70 per cent of Nepalis live below the educating communities on the mechanisms
poverty line. The average per capita annual and consequences of trafficking, and
income is US$180. There is widespread supporting the enforcement of existing
illiteracy, especially among women, 72 per laws and the formulation of appropriate
cent of whom are illiterate (Central Bureau policies, laws, and conventions to combat
of Statistics 2000). trafficking. Programme activities range
The flourishing trade in women is from the grassroots to national, regional (in
influenced by the socio-economic context. South Asia), and global levels. This inte-
Some rural families experience great grated multi-level approach aims to
difficulties in trying to sustain themselves. address the problem of violation of
While the deteriorating socio-economic women's rights during the recruitment,
conditions affect all members of society, work, and rescue stages of trafficking, as
women in particular are vulnerable to well as the institutional aspects.
trafficking due to the discrimination they At grassroots level, the work focuses on
face in household decision-making matters, collaboration with various institutions to
and the constraints they face with regard to educate communities, and to support
viable opportunities for earning a living. survivors through legal processes against
Families' vulnerability to the trafficking of traffickers. Sindhupalchock is one of the
their female members is a symptom of the most remote of Nepal's 75 districts, with a
desperation that exists. Socio-cultural large ethnic minority population. It is
pressures marginalise women from birth located in the central hilly region of Nepal,
onwards, and once a woman has been and shares its northern border with Tibet.
forced into sex slavery, there is no going Since this is one of the poorest districts in
back. the country and among the most vulnerable
Traffickers often use family members to trafficking, Oxfam GB has been working
and close friends of targeted women and here with two local organisations managed
girls to lure them and avoid detection by and controlled by women, and with the
authorities or communities as demonstrated District Development Committee, since
by the case of Bimala (in the Sindhupalchock 1998.
district, 40 km north east of Kathmandu). At the national level, the work is
Bimala and Nanu Maya were good friends, directed towards alliance building among
studying together in grade eight at a local relevant NGOs and advocacy groups to
school. Traffickers managed to convince promote law enforcement and reform
Nanu to lure her friend to go to Kathmandu, based on international human rights
Reducing poverty and upholding human rights 85

conventions. At the regional level, Oxfam of violence and trafficking have been
has worked with several of its partners, punished.
and more specifically with the Alliance
Against Trafficking in Women (AATWIN)
and the Asian Women Human Rights Conclusions
Council (AWHRC) as well as other regional Trafficking in women is a complex and
feminist groups, to lobby the South Asian extremely sensitive phenomenon, inextricably
Association for Regional Co-operation linked to poverty, migration, work, sex,
(SAARC) to set up regional mechanisms money, and violence. Oxfam's work in
(e.g. regional courts) to address the issue Nepal and in other countries provides
bilaterally. examples of a pragmatic but principled
At the international level, our priority approach to the problem.
has been to work with international
feminist groups and advocacy networks
(e.g. Global Alliance against Trafficking in
Women [GAATW] and the Asian Women 1 Over the years, there has been much
Human Rights Council [AWHRC]) to debate about the definition of
tackle trafficking issues within the UN, 'trafficking'. Even with the introduction
including the optional protocol. of the Trafficking Protocol in 2001,
This contextual and multi-layered disagreement remains about the
approach has been successful in some interpretation of the trafficking as set
areas. The Annual Impact Report, prepared out in the Protocol.
by Oxfam GB (Oxfam GB 2001) summarises 2 Not her real name.
some of the changes that have taken place 3 Shakti Shamuha is a campaign organi-
since the programme started. There are sation formed by survivors, and an
overall improvements in the participation Oxfam partner.
of women in formal politics. The five major
political parties in Nepal have accepted Meena Poudel is a development anthropologist
that women should have 33 per cent seats and feminist activist currently working as
in parliamentary structures, as against Programme Representative for Oxfam GB in
20 per cent (in village development Nepal, GPO Box 2500, Kathmandu, Nepal.
committees), and five per cent (House of E-mail:
Representatives). Women's groups are
lobbying to have women's names lodged as Ines Smyth is a Policy Adviser for Oxfam GB,
heads of household, along with men's, 274 Banbury Road, Oxford OX2 7DZ, United
during the national census planned for Kingdom. E-mail:
June. Women are also starting to come
forward as candidates for the next district
elections. References
The incidence of trafficking has Asia Watch (1993) A Modern Form of
decreased by about 15 per cent in Slavery: Trafficking of Women and Girls
Sindhupalchock district, as a result of legal into Brothels in Thailand, New York: Asia
action and campaigning against the Watch
traffickers. One hundred and fifty cases of Central Bureau of Statistics (2000) Statistical
violence against women and 75 trafficking Pocket Book, Kathmandu: Central Bureau
cases have been registered. Several cases of Statistics, National Planning
have been heard by village and district Commission
development committees, and perpetrators

Child Worker in Nepal Concerns Centre

(CWIN) (1992) Bal Sarokar, Kathmandu:
Oxfam GB (2001) 'South Asia Annual
Impact Report', June 2001, Oxford:
Oxfam GB
Oxfam GB (2002) 'Achieving Maximum
Impact: Oxfam's Strategy for Overcoming
Poverty', Oxford: Oxfam GB

Compiled by Nittaya Thiraphouth

Publications women, and to increase political action on

national and international levels. It is a
Human Rights and Trafficking in Persons: compilation of different types of materials,
A Handbook (2001), Global Alliance Against from descriptions and definitions of
Trafficking in Women, International Co- terminology to the texts of relevant UN
ordination Office, PO Box 36, Bangkok Noi documents.
Office, Bangkok 10700, Thailand.
This handbook is intended for NGOs, Human Rights in Practice; A Guide to Assist
activists, and others who come into contact Trafficked Women and Children (1997),
with trafficked persons or who are GAATW.
interested in the issue of trafficking. This is This manual, the result of a collaborative
a broad-based manual, containing general effort, is intended to be a resource for
strategies that can be further adapted to women's and children's rights organi-
local contexts. The handbook was developed sations that are either already involved in
out of regional human rights training held assisting trafficked women and children or
for activists in Asia, Eastern Europe, Africa, are intending to do so. It also aims to
and Latin America. In GAATW's 1999 global strengthen the political and lobbying efforts
meeting to evaluate the regional human of NGOs to influence national and
rights trainings, participants from each of international policies to promote the rights
the trainings agreed that defining specific of women and children who are trafficked
actions against trafficking is very dependent or vulnerable to being trafficked. In order to
upon the regional context. ensure its accessibility amongst a wide
group of community workers, this manual
Handbook for Human Rights Action (in the will soon be translated into other languages.
Context of Traffic in Women) (1996), GAATW.
This handbook is the result of an inter- Stopping Forced Labour: Global Report under
national workshop on human rights, the Follow Up to the ILO Declaration on
conducted in June 1996 in Bangkok by Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work
GAATW, in conjunction with the Foundation (2001), International Labour Office, CH-1211,
For Women, Thailand, and the International Geneva 22, Switzerland. Available on-line
Human Rights Law Group, USA. The at: http:/ /
handbook provides knowledge about the
This Global Report is the follow up to the
practical use of UN human rights
1998 ILO Declaration on the Fundamental
mechanisms in order to combat traffic in
Principles and Rights at Work, and is

principally aimed at policy makers and America and Europe. The conclusion offers
practitioners. Part One examines the forms suggestions for how individuals and
of slavery most prevalent in the world governments can combat slavery, and
today, and includes considerable analysis describes successful anti-slavery actions by
of bonded labour in South Asia. Part Two international and local organisations.
assesses the efforts of the ILO and other
international agencies to prevent these Enslaved People in the 1990s: A Report by
forms of forced labour and to rehabilitate Anti-Slavery International in Collaboration
its victims. Part Three presents an action with IWGIA (1997), Anti-Slavery
plan for the future. The report also contains International, The Stableyard, Broomgrove
a series of questions to be discussed by the Road, London, SW9 9TL, UK, and
International Labour Conference. International Work Group for Indigenous
Affairs, Fiolstraede 10, DK-1171,
Crossing Borders: Against Trafficking in Copenhagen, Denmark.
Women and Girls, A Resource Book for This report looks at different forms of
Working against Trafficking in the Baltic Sea slavery and slavery-like practices and their
Region (1999), Kvinnoforum, Kungsgatan 65, consequences. It comprises a collection of
SE-111 22 Stockholm, Sweden. Available case studies from Asia and South America
on-line at: that focus on the slavery and exploitation of
http: / / / misc / indigenous people, and argues that slavery
ResourceBookBody-Nov99.rtf affects indigenous people differently,
Produced by Kvinnoforum, a Swedish attacks their whole collective identity, and
organisation working to promote gender threatens their survival as a people.
equity, this book provides general back-
ground information about trafficking, Sex Slaves: The Trafficking of Women in Asia
describes different approaches to the (2000), Louise Brown, Virago Press, Bretten
problem, shares knowledge about victims House, Lancaster place, London WC2E
of trafficking, and describes the results of 7EN, UK.
Kvinnoforum's work. To facilitate the The outcome of intimate interviews with
building of networks, the resource book sex workers and others involved in the sex
lists more than 80 Baltic and Nordic industry including NGOs and government
organisations working against trafficking, officials, this book provides an insight into
or interested in incorporating this work the experience of sex workers forced into
into their current activities. the trade, describing their journey from
their homes to their lives in brothels. It
Disposable People: New Slavery in the Global covers different aspects of the trafficking
Economy (1999), Kevin Bales, University of trade, the market for prostitution, and
California Press, Berkeley, CA 94720, USA. explores the identities of agents and
Written in accessible narrative style, this is customers. The author overwhelmingly
an investigation into the current global finds that the primary customers of sex
resurgence of slavery. The author draws on workers are in fact not Western but Asian
interviews with victims, perpetrators, and men, and argues that in rigidly structured
public officials to describe slavery in its Asian societies where repressive sexual
modern form, and the way in which it has codes are built on the subjugation of
adapted to the global economy. Different women, 'sex and slavery are absolutely
chapters focus on practices in particular inseparable'. Its narrative style is suitable
countries, such Thailand, Mauritania, for a wide audience.
Brazil, Pakistan, India, and parts of
Resources 89

Making the Harm Visible: Global Sexual The Traffic in Women: Human Realities of the
Exploitation of Women and Girls, Speaking Out Sex Trade (1997), Siriporn Skrobanek,
and Providing Services (1999), Donna M. Nattaya Boonpakdi, and Chutma Janthakeero,
Hughes and 'Claire M. Roche (eds), Zed Books, 7 Cynthia Street, London
Coalition Against Trafficking in Women, Nl 9JK, UK.
University of Massachusetts, PO Box 9338, This moving but unemotional account of
N. Amherst, MA 01059, USA. Available on- the rapidly-expanding international traffic
line at: in women reveals it as a global issue. Using
http: / / / artsci / wms / hughes / original, carefully-documented field studies
mhvint.htm from Thailand, it explores the nature and
Making the Harm Visible is a collection of extent of the problem worldwide. It
writings on the global sexual exploitation of demonstrates how traffic in women and
women and girls by survivors, activists, forced prostitution are aspects of trans-
and service providers. The 44 pieces from national migration, and how these women
Asia, Africa, Europe, South America, the also suffer grave violations of human rights.
Caribbean, North America, and the Middle The book also shows how women
East offer personal, insightful, and themselves can be empowered to end
challenging perspectives on sexual violence trafficking, and ends with detailed
and prostitution. They reveal a spectrum of recommendations for change.
violence and exploitation from a variety of
cultures and contexts, with the main focus Global Sex Workers: Rights, Resistance and
on how prostitution industries objectify and Redefinition (1998), Kamala Kempadoo and
exploit women and girls. These accounts Jo Doezema (eds), Routledge, 29 West 35th
and reports describe how women are Street, New York, NY 1000, USA.
resisting the violence done to them as
Combining scholarly essays with personal
individuals and to other women and girls in
narratives, interviews, and reports, and
their communities by organising protests,
situating sex workers as working people
building programs and movements, and
who should enjoy human rights and
providing services to stop the violence, heal
workers' rights, this book reveals how
the harm, and prevent future exploitation.
ordinary women and men in prostitution
define and shape their struggle for social
Owed Justice: Thai Women Trafficked into Debt change and justice. Includes a bibliography
Bondage in Japan (2000), Human Rights and list of contributing organisations.
Watch, 350 Fifth Avenue, 34th Floor, New
York, NY 10118-3299, USA. Prostitution, Power and Freedom (1991), Julia
This report is the outcome of extensive O'Connell Davidson, University of Michigan
research over a period of six years by Press, PO Box 1104, Ann Arbor, MI 48106-
Human Rights Watch in co-operation with 1104, USA.
local organisations and researchers on the Prostitution, Power and Freedom brings new
trafficking of women from Thailand to insights to the ongoing debate among
Japan. It traces the experiences of women scholars, activists, and others on the
trafficked as 'hostesses' from recruitment to controversial subject of prostitution.
travel and subsequent employment, and Sociologist Julia O'Connell Davidson's
examines the response of the respective study is based on wide research from all
governments and the international over the world and includes interviews
community, concluding with targeted with prostitutes, clients, and procurers
recommendations. active in the international sex trade. The
author demonstrates the complexity of

prostitution, arguing that it is not simply historical, social, economic, and legislative
an effect of male oppression and violence contexts, and demonstrates that
or insatiable sexual needs; nor is it an prostitution has social components relating
unproblematic economic encounter. The to unequal power relations between men
book provides a sophisticated understanding and women, as well as children and adults.
that uncovers the economic and political Authors examine the different modes of
inequalities underlying prostitution, but entry into prostitution and the possibility
also shows that while prostitution of making a distinction between voluntary
necessarily implies certain freedoms for the and coerced prostitution. It includes a
clients, the amount of freedom experienced separate chapter on child prostitution. The
by individual prostitutes varies greatly. book concludes with a discussion of policy
and programme lessons, and advocates for
Crime and Servitude: An Expose of the Traffic the elimination of child prostitution.
in Women for Prostitution from the Newly
Independent States (1997), Gillian Caldwell, Stolen Lives: Trading Women into Sex and
Steven Galster, and Nadia Steinzor, Global Slavery (1996), Sietske Altink, The Haworth
Survival Network, PO Box 73214, Press Inc., 10 Alice St., Binghamton, NY
Washington, DC, USA. Available on-line at: 13904, USA. Examines how women are hired in their
de / 971 lrsussia.html home country and transported, left without
This thorough report details the findings of money, passports, or permits, and how
a two-year investigation by the Global they become trapped in prostitution and
Survival Network into the trafficking of domestic slavery. Includes women's
women from Russia and the former Soviet testimonies, explores international crime
Union for prostitution. As well as networks which exploit women, and
interviews and information collected from exposes the lack of action at regional,
NGOs, law enforcement agencies, and national, and international levels.
trafficked women themselves, one research
method used by GSN was to establish a Profiting from Abuse: An Investigation into the
dummy company in the USA that purported Sexual Exploitation of our Children (2001),
to specialise in importing foreign women UNICEF, 3 United Nations Plaza, New York,
as escorts and entertainers. This facilitated NY 10017, USA. Available on-line at:
access to the operations of international http: / / / pubsgen / profitin
trafficking networks, traffickers, and their g/profiting.pdf
partners. The report targets several This report presents the stories of children
'receiving' countries and concludes with and young people from all over the world
recommendations for action and policies who are involved in the sex trade, as well
for preventing traffickers and providing as the informed opinions of various
assistance to their victims. personalities and authorities committed to
ending it. It concludes that education and
The Sex Sector: The Economic and Social Bases raising awareness are vital to achieving
of Prostitution in South-East Asia (1998), Lin this, and calls for laws that promote the
Lean Lim (ed.), International Labour Office. welfare of children and protect them from
This collection comprises country case abuse. Accessibly written and emotive, it is
studies from Indonesia, Malaysia, the aimed at governments, law enforcers, and
Philippines, and Thailand, but has relevance international agencies, as well as civil
for many countries with a significant sex society organisations.
industry. Each study covers the respective
Resources. 91

Children of Other Worlds: Exploitation in the What Works for Working Children (1998),
Global Market (2001), Jeremy Seabrook, Jo Boyden, Birgitta Ling, and William
Pluto Press, 345 Archway Road, London Myers, Radda Barnen, Save the Children
N6 5AA, UK. Sweden, S-107 88 Stockholm, Sweden.
Academic in style and structure, this book Written from a child-centred perspective,
argues that child labour, like poverty and this book reviews and summarises recent
inequality, is structurally part of global- research and experience regarding child
isation. As its basis, it uses a comparison work, and the processes of child develop-
between industrial Britain in the early ment as they relate to work. It questions
nineteenth century and present day widespread concepts and approaches to
Bangladesh. work and childhood, and offers alternatives.
This book is targeted particularly at
The Human Rights of Street and Working organisations and practitioners working
Children (1998), lain Bryne, ITDG with children.
Publications Ltd., 103-105 Southampton
Row, London WC1B 4HH, UK. Domestic Child Workers: Selected Case Studies
Written both for experienced advocates and on the Situation of the Girl-Child Domestic
for non-specialists in the field, this manual Workers (1997), Barbara Ojoo, Sinaga
explains how to use regional and Women and Child Labour Resource Centre,
international treaties and mechanisms for PO Box 71991, Nairobi, Kenya.
the protection of street and working This study draws primarily on research
children when national laws fail. The carried out at the Sinaga Centre, a Kenyan
manual is presented in an accessible NGO that supports domestic child workers
question-and-answer format, and is through integrated awareness-raising and
divided into three chapters: defining rehabilitation programmes. Commissioned
substantive rights; practical guidelines on by Oxfam Kenya, in collaboration with the
how to use regional and international Sinaga Centre, the study examines the
human rights systems; and a list of human socio-economic factors that lead to domestic
rights documents by country. child work, describes working conditions,
and raises policy issues for considerations
Child Labour: Targeting the Intolerable (1998), by policy makers and practitioners working
International Labour Organisation. on child labour issues.
Available on-line at:
http:/ / Early Marriage, Child Spouses (2001),
standards / ipec/ publ / clrep96.htm UNICEF, Innocenti Research Centre, Piazza
Submitted to ILO member states, this SS. Annunziata 12, 50122 Florence, Italy.
report is aimed at governments, employers, Part of UNICEF's Innocenti Digest series,
and workers' organisations as part of the this issue focuses on early marriage, and
ILO campaign to eliminate child labour. comprises a collection of short articles
Targeting the Intolerable draws on the covering the causes, contexts, and impacts
experience of the ILO to chronicle the of child marriage. It incorporates guidelines
exploitation and abuse of working children, for organisations working to end the
survey international and national law, and practice of early marriage, including an
make recommendations for practical action article on working toward gender equity in
through the adoption of international marriage. With the aim of raising awareness
standards. It also includes a questionnaire among governments and civil society, and
to solicit the view of governments on the of stimulating action, it concludes with a call
proposals. for more rights-based research on the issue.

Servile Forms of Marriage: Women and counselling centre for sexually transmitted
Property (1995), Anti-Slavery International. diseases and AIDS. Ban Ying is Thai for
This paper was prepared for the UN Fourth 'house of women'. The organisation
World Conference on Women in Beijing, in comprises two projects, a shelter and a co-
order to bring to the fore the issue of ordination centre for women from South-
women's property rights and to advocate East Asia.
for the ratification of the Convention on the
Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination CHANGE, Room 222, Bon Marche Centre,
Against Women. It presents information 241-51 Ferndale Road, London SW9 8BJ, UK.
from published and unpublished reports Tel: +44 (0) 20 7733 9928; fax: +44 (0) 20
by NGOs, academics, and others, and uses 7733 9923; E-mail:
case studies that were specifically carried http:/ /
out for Anti-Slavery International in
Gambia, Tanzania, and Pakistan. The CHANGE is a woman's human rights
studies focus on family law, property organisation based in London, operating
rights, and the division of assets. with and through contacts all over the
world. Its purpose is to promote and
protect women's human rights worldwide,
and to effect change in all aspects of women's
Anti-Slavery International, Thomas Clarkson lives including: poverty, violence, access to
House, The Stableyard, Broomgrove Road, democracy, and access to economic decision
London SW9 9TL, UK. making. It fulfils its aims through research
Tel: +44 (0) 20 7501 8920; fax: +44 (0) 20 programmes, dissemination of information,
7738 4110; E-mail: and lobbying and training of other organisations and individuals. Change is
Anti-Slavery International was set up in undertaking an anti-trafficking programme.
1839 with the objective of ending slavery
throughout the world. It works with Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking
partner organisations around the world to (CAST), Little Tokyo Service Center, 231 E.
collect information on the issues central to 3rd St., Suite G104, Los Angeles, California
their work: traditional slavery, child 90013, USA.
labour, bonded labour; and the trafficking Tel: +1 213 473 1611; fax: +1 213 473 1601;
and enslavement of men, women, and
children. It publishes this information to
http: / / /
inform the public and policy makers about
slavery issues around the world, and CAST is an alliance of non-profit service
works through international bodies in providers, grassroots advocacy groups, and
order to promote laws to protect those activists dedicated to providing services
exploited by these practices. and human rights advocacy to victims of
modern-day slavery. CAST was founded in
Ban Ying, Anklamer Strasse, 10115 Berlin, 1998 in the aftermath of the El Monte
Germany. sweatshop case. Its mission is to assist
Tel: +49 (0) 30 440 63 73 74; persons trafficked for the purpose of forced
fax: +49 (0) 30 440 63 75; labour and slavery-like practices, and to
E-mail: work toward ending all instances of such human rights violations.
Ban Ying was founded in 1988 through the
initiative of social workers staffing a Berlin
Resources 93

Coalition Against Trafficking in Women, the world community to ensure that children
Dr. Janice Raymond, Co-Executive Director, everywhere enjoy their fundamental rights
Coalition Against Trafficking in Women, free from all forms of commercial sexual
University of Massachusetts, PO Box 9338, exploitation.
N. Amherst, MA 01059, USA.
Fax:+1413 367 9262 Global Alliance Against Trafficking in Women, International Co-ordination Office, PO Box
The Coalition Against Trafficking in 36, Bangkok Noi Office, Bangkok 10700,
Women is a feminist human rights NGO Thailand.
that works internationally to oppose all Tel: +662 864 1427 8; fax: +662 864 1637;
forms of sexual exploitation. E-mail:
Committee Against Modern Slavery, 4 Place The Global Alliance Against Traffic in
de Valois, 75001 PARIS, France. Women (GAATW) was formed at the
Tel: +33 1 55 35 36 55; fax : +33 1 55 35 36 56; International Workshop on Migration and
E-mail: Traffic in Women held in Chiang Mai,
http: / / / Thailand in October 1994. Since that time,
The Committee Against Modern Slavery is GAATW has grown into a movement of
a member of 'Article Premier', a collective organisations and individuals worldwide,
of 33 NGOs, founded after the 50th and has coordinated, organised, and
Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of facilitated work on issues related to
H u m a n Rights, and whose aim is to trafficking in persons and women's labour
reaffirm the universality and indivisibility migration in virtually every region of the
of human rights. world.

Dutch Foundation Against Trafficking in Global March Against Child Labour, L-6,
Women (STV), PO Box 1455, 3500 BL Kalkaji, New Delhi 19, India.
UTRECHT, The Netherlands. Tel: +91 11 6224899, 6475481; fax: +91 11
Tel: +31 30 716044; fax: +31 30 716084; 6236818; E-mail:
E-mail: http:/ /
http:/ / FoundTraf.html Global March is involved in assessing and
The Dutch Foundation Against Trafficking lobbying for the ratification and imple-
in Women (STV) was initiated in the early mentation of the ILO Convention Against
1980s in response to the then highly- the Worst forms of Child Labour.
publicised issue of sex tourism. It provides
support and assistance, advocacy, training, International Labour Organisation, International
and information sharing. Programme on the Elimination of Child
ECPAT International, 328 Phaya Thai Road, Tel: +41 22 799 8181; fax: +41 22 799 8771;
Bangkok 10400, Thailand. E-mail:
Tel: +662 215 3388; fax +662 215^8272; http:/ /
E-mail: standards / ipec / index.htm
http:/ / IPEC's aim is to work towards the
ECPAT is a network of organisations and progressive elimination of child labour by
individuals working together for the strengthening national capacities to address
elimination of child prostitution, child child labour problems, and by creating a
pornography, and trafficking of children worldwide movement to combat it.
for sexual purposes. It seeks to encourage

International Organization for Migration Stop-Traffic

(IOM), 17 Route des Morillons, CP 71, E-mail:
CH-1211 Geneva 19, Switzerland.
Tel: +41 22 717 9111; fax: 41 22 798 6150; Launched by the Global Survival Network
E-mail: in March 1998, Stop-Traffic is a facilitated
http: / / international electronic mailing list that
Established in 1951 as an intergovern- deals with human rights abuses associated
mental organisation to resettle European with trafficking in persons, with an
displaced persons, refugees, and migrants, emphasis on trafficking in women for
IOM now encompasses a variety of forced prostitution/sexual slavery,
migration management activities throughout sweatshop labour, domestic service, and
the world, including measures to counter coercive mail-order bride arrangements.
trafficking in persons.
United Nations Office for Drug Control and
La Strada (a contact list by country is Crime Prevention
available at http:/ /
La Strada is an international program that Contains on-line access to key policy
operates in the Netherlands, Poland, documents such as the UN Convention
Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Macedonia, Against Transnational Organised Crime
Moldova, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and other supporting documents.
Belarus, and Ukraine. It focuses on
prevention of traffic in women, support of Videos
victims of trafficking, influencing
legislation, and disseminating information. Bought and Sold (1997), Witness, 353
Broadway, New York, NY 1001, USA.
Network of Sex Work Projects, 3 Morley Rd. http: / /
Observatory, 7925 Cape Town, South Africa. Witness partners at The Global Survival
E-mail: Network (GSN) conducted a two-year
http: / / / csis / groups / nswp / investigation to uncover the growing
NSWP is an informal alliance that international transport of Russian women
participates in independently financed for prostitution. In addition to interviewing
projects in partnership with member NGOs, women who had been trafficked
organisations and technical support abroad, and police and government officials
agencies. in many countries, GSN established a
dummy company based in the USA that
purportedly specialised in importing
Electronic resources foreign women as escorts and entertainers.
Qweb Under that guise, GSN gained entry to the
http:/ / shadowy operations of international
trafficking trafficking and produced this documentary
This worldwide network on women's film, which gives an insider's perspective
health and gender issues runs a on how the international trade in women
networking project against trafficking. The actually works.
site contains a number of references, on-
line documents, links, and details of 250
members with special interest in
Resources 95

Out of Sight, Out of Mind (1999), Conferences

Anti-Slavery International.
Conference on Trafficking in Persons in Asia:
This 15-minute video was produced by The Human Rights Challenge of Globalisation,
Anti-Slavery as part of its campaign on
Hawaii, USA, Spring 2002.
child domestic workers in the Philippines.
Made with local NGO forum Visayan, this With plenary sessions and ' h a n d s - o n '
video was shown on TV and in Congress in workshops, the practical focus of the
the Philippines. This has led to the drafting conference will build on monitoring and
of a new law which will protect child implementing two existing international
domestic workers. Contact the Publications initiatives to combat and prevent trafficking:
Officer: for the Asian Regional Initiative Against
further information. Trafficking in Women a n d Children
(ARIAT) Plan of Action; and the UN
Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish
Sisters and Daughters Betrayed, The Global
Trafficking in Persons. For further
Fund for Women, 425 Sherman Avenue,
information, contact Dr. Nancie Caraway,
Suite 300, Palo Alto, CA 94306, USA.
Globalization Research Centre, Director of
This video about the realities of sex Women's Human Rights Projects, 1580
trafficking and forced prostitution was Makaloa Street, Suite 970, Honolulu,
released inl995 by independent video- Hawaii 96822, USA. Tel: +1 808 945 1450,
maker Chela Blitt. It examines the economics ext. 106; fax: +1 808 945 1455;
of trafficking and the parallels between the E-mail:
situation in Asia and other regions.
It presents interviews with activist women
in Asia who are involved in campaigns
against trafficking.

The Child Brides: Early and Forced Marriage

(1998), Umbrella Pictures for Channel 4,
available from Anti-Slavery International.
Shot on location in Ethiopia, this programme
reveals how many young girl are taken
from their homes and are forced to marry.
Unable to finish school, they often become
pregnant, and face serious consequences to
their health and well-being.