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"57th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW57) "
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Commission on the Status of Women
57th Session
4-15 March 2013
Follow-up to the Beijing Platform for Action; the Palermo Protocol; the Report of the Secretary General on Trafficking in Women and Girls; the Twenty-Third Special Session of the General Assembly; the CSW Agreed Conclusions 2007.

PRIORITY THEME: The Elimination and Prevention of All Forms of Violence Against Women and Girls

Joint statement submitted by the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women; Company of the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul; Congregation of our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd; International Council of Jewish Women; International Institute Maria Ausiliatrice; International Movement for Fraternal Union Among Races and Peoples; National Council of Women of the USA; Passionists International; Salesian Missions; Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur; Society of Catholic Medical Missionaries, UNANIMA International, and the US Federation for Middle East Peace (USFMEP), non-governmental organizations in special consultative status with the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).


The United Nations has become very active in its condemnation of human trafficking, which directly violates the Universal Declaration of Human Rights┐ prohibition of slavery / involuntary servitude (Art.4), guarantee of freedom of movement (Art.13), freedom from forced marriage (Art. 16), and free choice of employment (Art.23). Yet human trafficking is one of the fastest growing types of crime in the world. Statistics vary widely, but the Secretary General┐s report of 23 July 2012 (A/67/170) says 20.9 million persons have been trafficked into forced labor, with 43% trafficked for sexual exploitation.

Trafficking has become the most lucrative crime business after drugs (US State Department), because the ┐merchandise┐ can be sold over and over again. According to UNICEF, the global market for child trafficking alone brings in over 12 billion dollars per year, with over 1-2 million child victims. The US Department of State estimates that up to 800,000 people are bought and sold across international boundaries every year. Of these 50% are children, mostly girls--the majority are sexually exploited. Since the trafficking of children is often more hidden, this crime actually may be under-reported.

Those most likely to be trafficked are women and children; 98% of those trafficked for sex and 55% trafficked for labour are women and girls (International Labour Organization). Children are sold for work, begging, sexual exploitation, drug smuggling, forced marriage or adoptions, as child soldiers, or for organ harvesting. Girls are especially vulnerable to the danger of being trafficked for the following reasons:

GENDER INEQUITY: Girls are the most powerless of all vulnerable populations because of social and cultural factors that devalue women and girls. Girls often have no control over their destiny, and their lower status makes them more likely to be voluntarily sold by their families.

POVERTY: Parents who voluntarily sell their children to traffickers often do so because they are living in poverty and cannot afford to feed their children, or think that it represents an opportunity for a better life for the child. Girls usually have fewer prospects for employment--with lower potential salary contributions--or require dowries.

GENDER IMBALANCE: Abduction is another source of trafficked children. Countries ith extreme gender imbalances have a high number of kidnappings, mostly from poor areas and from neighboring countries. Given a cultural preference for male children, families may buy a son; or given a gender ratio distortion and shortage of brides, women and girls become ┐commodities┐ in countries with strong preferences for male children.

Indeed, any factor that increases the ┐supply┐ of vulnerable people, such as natural disasters, migration, unemployment, lack of education, and domestic violence, will tend to increase the incidence of trafficking.

Only recently has it become more common to look at the factors that increase ┐demand┐ for trafficked persons, such as:

--The desire for cheap labor and the public insistence on cheap goods
--Organized crime, generating high profits and low risks for traffickers
--Advertising by the tourist industry that creates a ┐need┐ like sex tourism
--Pornography, perhaps the most potent driver in the sex trade
--Ignorance / false ideas (e.g. ┐having sex with a virgin cures HIV/AIDS┐)
--Societal norms that permit the use of children in brothels, some as young as 3, and as soldiers (including girls), some as young as 9

Trafficking in children has many complex causes, but perhaps the greatest single factor in the increasing demand is the production of pornography. Pornography is becoming more explicit, more violent, and more degrading, and the internet has made it ever more accessible to teens and young adults. In an analysis of a number of internet pornography sites, 88% depicted physical aggression, 94% of which was directed against women or children.

Education is one of the best empowerment tools to help children and families protect themselves from traffickers. Last year the NGO UNANIMA International piloted a ┐Youth-to-Youth┐ educational program in Nairobi, Kenya, on ┐Stop the Demand.┐ A core group of 20 young men and women were given a two day training workshop on trafficking┐what it is; what are the causes; ┐supply┐ and ┐demand┐ factors; its relationship with smuggling, migration, and slavery; and how to recognize trafficking. Continuing their own monthly educational experiences, they in turn went into the field to offer awareness programs for other groups of youth 13-20 years of age for the rest of the year, hosting 13 workshops that reached 362 youth. They incorporated experiences in art, music, poetry, and dance, to vary the activities. It was considered so successful that an additional core group will be added this year.

No ┐cultural┐ excuses can justify the sexual exploitation of children, resulting as it does in long-lasting physical and psychological trauma, disease, drug addiction, pregnancy, malnutrition, social ostracism, and death. (US Department of State: Trafficking in Persons Report 2012). Trafficking in children is child slavery, and a gross violation of human rights. The prostitution of children is prohibited in most countries around the world. United Nations documents such as the Convention on the Rights of the Child forbid the exploitative use of children for labor, armed conflict, prostitution, or pornography (Art.31); in pornography performances and materials (Art.34); and urge nations to ┐take all┐measures to prevent abduction of, sale of, or traffic in children┐ (Art. 35)). That document also promotes measures that contribute to the ┐physical and psychological recovery and scial reintegration┐ of the child (Art. 39), preventing re-victimization.

We call on this Commission to urge Member States to

--Strengthen the enforcement of internationally-agreed commitments designed to prevent human trafficking, protect victims, and prosecute traffickers, particularly the United Nations Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children.

--Urge the 39 member states who have not ratified the protocol to do so immediately.

--Increase development aid, especially that which is targeted to the creation of legitimate income-generating possibilities for women and families with children, and to educate / empower girls.

--Intensify efforts to prosecute people who exploit children in brothels, massage parlours, strip clubs, and in street prostitution.

--Promote sanctions against law enforcement agencies that refuse to enforce laws against trafficking, and dismantle criminal networks that profit from the sale of human beings.

--Recommend more stringent sanctions on the publication or transmission of pornography in electronic or paper form.
--Publicize the illegal nature and penalties for trafficking, and promote media campaigns dealing with human rights for children.

--Provide gender-centred education, and information/ awareness campaigns to warn children about the dangers of trafficking, and campaigns targeting males, to strike at the ┐Demand┐ side of the issue (United Nations Population Fund).

--Encourage governments to share best practices in the production of informational material and sensitization programs for teachers, parents, health care workers, and law enforcement agencies.

--Support the provision of safe places and treatment for child victims/ survivors of trafficking, as well as programs to re-integrate them into their society, as described in the Draft Principles on the Right to an Effective Remedy in the Report of the Special Rapporteur to the 66th Session of the UN General Assembly. A/66/283 (9 August 2011)

Trafficking is truly a global problem: The United Nations Global Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking and the UNODC report that people are trafficked from 127 countries, and exploited in 137 countries, affecting every continent and every type of economy. Since 154 nations ratified The United Nations Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, there seems to be the political will to address this problem at the international level, prosecuting and convicting traffickers, and providing legal protection and redress to victims. This is the year to strengthen our resolve.

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