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"57th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW57) "
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We, members of the NGO Committee to Stop Trafficking in Persons submit this joint statement on the extreme violence that continues to plague girls and women around the world: human trafficking for commercial sexual exploitation (CSE). This egregious crime is one of the most profitable illicit activities and is one of the most pervasive and systematic human rights violations in the world today. Unlike drugs or arms, those sold into sexual slavery can be sold repeatedly, making huge profits for their traffickers. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights guarantees human rights by protecting human beings against actions that interfere with their dignity and fundamental freedoms. It also obligates Member States of the UN to preserve and protect human rights without distinction of race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.
A number of international agreed commitments to combat human trafficking for CSE are legally binding for States Parties, e.g. the UN Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, which includes measures designed to prevent human trafficking, protect victims, and prosecute traffickers; CEDAW and the CRC, including their optional protocols. In addition, the Recommended Principles and Guidelines on Human Rights and Human Trafficking, an international ┐soft law┐ instrument developed by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, aims to promote and facilitate an appropriate human rights-based perspective into national, regional and international anti-trafficking interventions, policies and laws.
The international human rights-based approach is a ┐person-centered┐ framework that recognizes the right to remedy and prioritized prevention, assistance to victims, and an appropriate response to perpetrators. An effective rights-based approach to trafficking for CSE renders the human rights embedded in treaties into services on the ground.
The 57th session of the CSW offers a unique opportunity for Member States to review progress on all of the promises that have been made to combat human trafficking for CSE. We urge UN agencies and States Parties to form strategic partnerships to bring an end to trafficking for CSE as a human rights priority.
The NGO Committee to Stop Trafficking in Persons is dedicated to stop human trafficking in all its forms. A forthcoming article in the American Journal of Orthopsychiatry by Yvonne Rafferty documents the research for these recommendations. We recommend the following actions:
Trafficking for CSE exists because of the global demand for vulnerable victims to exploit. A comprehensive tackling of demand requires action at the following levels: (a) exploiter demand (e.g., brothel owners, pimps); (b) consumer demand (e.g., clients or prostitute-users); and (c) third parties and other intermediaries who profit directly or indirectly from CSE (traffickers, recruiters, agents, transporters, and corrupt officials in law enforcement, immigration and corrupt judicial systems that knowingly participate in the exploitation of persons through lax enforcement of laws against exploiters in the illegal sex trade). Traffickers and their accomplices are seldom investigated, prosecuted, convicted, or punished. We urge Member States to take immediate action to:
a. Strengthen legal frameworks through legislation and lw enforcement (e.g., ratify international instruments and adopt legislation in compliance with international obligations; enforce laws; prosecute traffickers and dismantle criminal networks perpetuating trafficking in persons).
b. Intensify efforts to identify exploiters and facilitators (people whose money makes trafficking possible), including those in the private and corporate sector.
Girls and women trafficked for CSE are often referred to as the ┐supply┐ side of human trafficking. Innovative policies and programs are needed to empower girls and women with essential personal resources to enhance their competencies within high risk settings. We urge Member States to take immediate action to:
a. Promote competence and resilience through education and life skills. Education is the right of every girl and young woman and the key to transforming her life and the life of her community. Without education, girls are denied the opportunity to develop their full potential and play a productive and equal role in their families, societies, country and world.
b. Ensure safe migration. Knowledge and awareness are the first steps to enabling girls and young women to defend themselves. Providing them with information and resources on safe migration, how to find decent work, dangers to be aware of, whom to contact for help, and how to ensure that job offers abroad are safe and genuine is essential.
3. Strengthen Communities
An effective, sustainable and rights-based solution to the complex problem of trafficking for CSE requires governments to create a safe, supportive and protective environment for all girls and women if they are to be protected against all forms of abuse, exploitation, neglect and violence and that their best interests are considered in all actions concerning them. We urge Member States to take immediate action to:
a. Promote gender equality. Social norms and cultural traditions that perpetuate gender based social inequalities, stereotypic attitudes, and discrimination toward girls and women perpetuate women┐s subordinate status in society, heighten the vulnerability of girls, and pose a challenge to achieving gender equality. Because the trafficking of girls and women for CSE is rooted in gender politics, gender-based discrimination, and patriarchal structures, there must be a strong commitment to changing prevailing attitudes and social norms.
b. Implement national child protections systems. The essential components of a national child protective system consist of a range of options including: (a) strengthening education, health, security, justice systems and structures; (b) enhancing the capacity and accountability of those responsible for the child┐s primary care including, parents, guardians or others who have the care of the child; (c) protecting children from adverse attitudes, traditions, customs, behaviors and practices; and (d) having adequate laws and policies in place.
c. Enhance economic opportunities. Poverty and economic inequality are significant risk factors associated with trafficking for CSE. Most victims of human trafficking come from families in communities with inadequate economic and job opportunities. Promotion of the right of development and economic opportunities is vital to eradicating one of the root factors of trafficking for CSE.
d. Strengthen partnerships. An effective response requires effective coordination and communiation between and among sectors and a sharing of resources both locally and across borders.
e. Adequate training of law enforcement, border patrol, and other front line staff. Professionals working in government and non-government institutions and organizations are often not involved in cases of human trafficking because they do not have adequate information on the issues involved (e.g., the types and modus operandi of the trafficking networks; the stereotyping of the victims or trafficking networks; the lack of knowledge regarding support resources and government and non-government assistance). As a result, the appropriate rights-based legal responses, and the needed actions and interventions are overlooked
f. Promote girls┐ participation. The importance of girl participation is a key component of human rights and is encouraged by the CRC. Their contributions shift their position from beneficiaries to rights bearers with an ability to claim their rights. Girls who have experienced trafficking for CSE are a valuable resource to those implementing preventive interventions and should be a primary source of information to base programs and policies (e.g., factors that make girls vulnerable, reasons for leaving home, special needs regarding prevention, assistance and protection).
4. Provide Psychosocial Rehabilitation and Reintegration Services for Victims/Survivors
Successful protection of those trafficked for CSE requires that we identify victims, assess their needs, and provide them with appropriate psychosocial supports and services. Health and safety standards in exploitative settings are extremely low and the degree of experienced violence can range from coercive strategies, such as physical and verbal threats, to extreme physical abuse or torture-like violence. Due to these harsh conditions, as well as the trauma involved, girls and women trafficked for CSE experience numerous adverse outcomes including physical health problems (e.g., broken bones, burns, sexually transmitted infections, HIV/AIDS, and complications from unwanted pregnancies and abortions), and mental health problems (e.g., hopelessness, despair, suicidal ideation and attempts, anxiety disorders, low self-esteem, depression, and post-traumatic stress syndrome/disorder). These experiences and outcomes attest to the need for effective strategies to rehabilitate and reintegrate victims and survivors. We urge Member States to take immediate action to:
a. Adopt a multidisciplinary service approach to recovery to ensure that victims receive effective psychosocial support during the rehabilitation and reintegration process.
b. Provide resources for victims of violence and insure that funding is never compromised.
c. Identify and widely promote promising practices for providing services to victims.
5. Collect, Analyze and Disseminate Data on Trafficking for CSE
Finding reliable statistics on the extent of human trafficking for CSE is virtually impossible. Available data are elusive, confusing and unreliable in view of: (a) the clandestine nature of trafficking for CSE; (b) the fact that it is a criminal activity and lawmakers and public officials find it difficult to acknowledge the magnitude of the problem; (c) uncoordinated data collection and statistics ridden with methodological problems making it hard to evaluate the validity and reliability of available data; and (d) the lack of a precise, consistent, unambiguous and standard operatin definitions of trafficking, trafficker, trafficked person and child. We urge Member States to take immediate action to:
a. Adopt definitions of human trafficking that are consistent with the Palermo Protocol.
b. Institutionalize data gathering that is disaggregated by sex, age, socioeconomic status, race and ethnicity.
c. Monitor, evaluate and share information on effective programs and policies.