Migration bans do not protect the rights of women, only push them into taking more risky options
On International Women’s Day GAATW-IS issued a statement calling for an end to restrictions on the migration of women domestic workers, particularly in South Asia. Such bans have been justified as a way to prevent trafficking, exploitation and abuse but have, in fact, often made women more vulnerable to abuse.
The statement is based on a 2015 joint study by GAATW and the ILO, exploring the effects of bans on women’s migration for domestic work in Nepal. The study found that the bans limit women’s economic opportunities in their most productive years and prevent them from supporting themselves and their families. They also placed women at greater risk of abuse during their journey, and gave them less control over their migration experience. These bans do not address the motives that prompt women to migrate, such as lack of income-generating opportunities at home, the social pressure to migrate or the desire to explore the world. Second, they push women to seek irregular migration channels through the help of smugglers and traffickers, thus making them more vulnerable to abuse, exploitation and debt bondage. Third, a ban on migration means that women miss out on the same skills training, pre-departure training and awareness training on their human and labour rights, compared to migrants who travel through state-approved recruitment agencies.
Based on these findings GAATW-IS makes several recommendations to the governments of both countries of origin and countries of destination for women migrant domestic workers.
Read the full statement here.
Monitoring of anti-trafficking policies in Latin America
In February GAATW-IS organised a meeting in Lima with LAC members ECPAT Guatemala, Corporación Espacios de Mujer (Colombia) and CHS Alternativo (Peru), and a new ally from Bolivia, Fundación La Paz. The aim of the meeting was to lay the foundations of a new project to monitor anti-trafficking measures in Latin America.
The objective of the project is to show the gaps between anti-trafficking policies on paper and in practice, to identify policies that are working and those that are not well implemented.
During the investigation and analysis process, we will work proactively to collaborate with the respective governments. This work will then be used to provide recommendations to improve the services for trafficked persons.
The project aims put a start to a future monitoring process in Latin America.
Migrant Workers’ Experience of Accessing Justice: A Workshop to Discuss Conceptual Issues and Researcher Methodologies
On 9-11 March, GAATW-IS organised a research methodology workshop to kick off the participatory action research (PAR) project by GAATW and the Legal Support for Children and Women (LSCW), Cambodia. The research project aims to understand and analyse the access to justice scenario from the perspective of Cambodian migrant workers and engage with legal service-providing NGOs in Cambodia and Thailand. The workshop highlighted GAATW’s experience in using PAR, as a methodology to involve stakeholders to influence positive change through action. Having the view and experiences of the migrant workers at the center of our project analysis, we aim to base our actions in better, broader, understanding of ‘justice’ and accessibility for migrant workers.
Anti-Trafficking Review Call for Papers
The Anti-Trafficking Review calls for papers for a themed issue entitled ‘Where’s the Evidence?’, to be published in April 2017.
Responses to, and international interest in, human trafficking have proceeded apace over the past 15 years in line with the adoption of the UN Trafficking Protocol. Yet, a great deal of anti-trafficking work is based on assumptions that are not well-proven and infrequently questioned. Why, for example, do some regions or groups emerge as trafficking hot-spots to become ‘intervention intensive’? How do anti-trafficking actors justify and explain the need to continue work in a particular area, or with a particular group? Similarly, anti-trafficking measures often continue in the absence of efforts to monitor and evaluate their effectiveness. How, in these circumstances, can the value of anti-trafficking work be estimated? On what basis is funding continued or denied to organisations undertaking such interventions? There has been some critical reflection on these issues, with a number of commentators questioning the production, global circulation and validity of statistics on human trafficking in particular. Statistics often take on a life of their own, despite their often questionable genesis, whilst the place and value of qualitative approaches in the field is also open to some scrutiny. Qualitative research methods are not necessarily any more robust in this relatively young field, and critics have questioned unethical and sometimes directly harmful methods of both qualitative and quantitative data collection and analysis.
This special issue builds on such work, to critically explore the question of evidence in both the characterisation of human trafficking and in evaluating the merit of anti-trafficking work. The Debate Section of this issue will invite authors to defend or reject the following proposition: ‘Global trafficking prevalence data advances the fight against trafficking in persons.’
Read the full announcement here. Deadline for submission is 1 July.
Review Meeting with partners for the Work in Freedom Project
In collaboration with the ILO, GAATW-IS organised a review meeting for the Work in Freedom (WIF) project to discuss the learning process and the experience of project partners. The meeting brought together representatives from the ILO South Asia country programs and WIF partner organisations from Bangladesh, India and Nepal.
The project looks at the valuable role of NGOs in enabling the women to make informed decisions in the migration process, as a means to prevent trafficking of women and girls. GAATW provided expertise in building the capacity of community workers so they can do their work better (i.e. understand and analyse women’s realities from a feminist perspective and work with them to enable them to make a well-informed decision).
The review meeting was an occasion to reflect on the concept of women’s empowerment and the work carried out by partners at the community level. This meeting was also an input session for GAATW’s planned publication for a ‘Community Workers’ Handbook.’ This publication will document some of the practical learning from partners and present thematic areas which will be useful in knowledge and skills building for community workers.
The other purpose of this review meeting was to assess what has really worked well and to learn lessons from the challenges. Findings from the ILO invaluability assessment were presented on the last day. It looked at the entire project from rights based approach and presented how the project can move forward.
Screening of the films Ticket to Paradise and Becky’s Journey
On 18 February GAATW-IS organised the screening of two films about migration, sex work and human trafficking - Ticket to Paradise and Becky’s Journey at JAM Bar and Café in Bangkok.
Ticket to Paradise (2008) is set in the northeast of Thailand and revolves around the lives of several women who are married to, or aspiring to marry, Danish men. It explores their relationships with their families, children and Danish husbands, and the choices that they need to make to achieve their goals – one of the women has to leave her child behind, while for another the ticket to paradise is through the sex bars in Pattaya.
Becky’s Journey (2014) tells the story of a 26-year-old Nigerian woman who wants to go to Europe to sell sex. The film is about migration, sex work and human trafficking seen from the perspective of Becky. Through interviews with Becky and sequences of everyday life, we sense the feelings of limbo and immobility that permeate Becky’s life.
The screenings were followed by a discussion with the Danish filmmaker and social anthropologist Sine Plambech. She told the audience about the lives of the Thai women in Denmark at the moment – seven years after the film was made. Some had succeeded in building a new and better life for themselves and their children in Denmark, others were facing difficulties. The audience engaged in lively discussions about migration for marriage, support for the family back in Thailand, human trafficking and sex work. The screenings were part of the efforts of GAATW-IS to increase its engagement with the community in Thailand.
New video showcases the work of Brigada Callejera
The National Institute of Social Development has produced a video documenting the work of GAATW member in Mexico Brigada Callejera.
Brigada Callejera de Apoyo a la Mujer, “Elisa Martínez”, A. C., is a non-profit organisation specialised in defending human, civil and labour rights of sex workers and trans* people.
The organisation began its work focusing on the prevention of HIV, AIDS and Sexually Transmitted Infections. However it realised quickly that it was necessary to work holistically within a framework of respect for human rights in order to better address the needs of its beneficiaries.
Brigada Callejera currently promotes community mobilisation against human trafficking and sexual exploitation, manages a medical centre and supports sex workers and their children to resume or continue their education.
The Hidden Harms of Anti-Trafficking
In October 2015, SWAN Vancouver hosted an evening of critical dialogue and research, with the aim of dismantling the hidden harms of the anti-trafficking industry in Canada (see GAATW e-Bulletin from January 2016). All the talks and presentations of the event are now available on a dedicated webpage. In addition, SWAN Vancouver has issued a call for students, groups and organisations across Canada to host critical anti-trafficking events to bring awareness to troubling trends in anti-trafficking campaigns, fundraising and actions. SWAN hopes that the call will create space for dialogue on the real, on-the-ground impacts of anti-trafficking in an environment where there is little space to do so at both the local and national level.
AFRO encourages women to seek help if harassed at work
AFRO, a GAATW member and a support network for women working in the commercial sex industry in Hong Kong, urges sex workers to contact them or report to police any incidents of harassment and ‘protection fees’ imposed by organised criminal gangs. Such criminal acts can be reported against triad members under Chapter 151 (Societies Ordinances), Section 20 (Membership, etc), while asking for ‘protection fees’ and damaging of the door bells can be charged under Chapter 210 (Theft Ordinance), Section 23 (Blackmail), as well as Chapter 200 (Crimes Ordinance), Section 60 (Destroying or damaging property). The maximum penalty of the above is imprisonment.
Freedom Collaborative launched
In February Liberty Asia and Chab Dai launched The Freedom Collaborative – an online service platform to facilitate connectivity, knowledge-sharing and cross-border cooperation among anti-trafficking stakeholders.
Freedom Collaborative provides a tool to share information, urgent news and important updates. It also will give users across the region access to relevant and quality information of people and organisations as potential partners for collaboration. Key features include an effective search for stakeholders who provide services and programmes to match specific needs and requirements, private messaging and a community newsfeed to share information quickly and effectively.
The project aims to make a long-lasting difference in the daily work and efforts of anti-trafficking stakeholders and brings together multiple needs.
GPI Media Academy
Early this year, Girl Power Initiative (GPI), a GAATW member in Nigeria, announced the opening of their GPI Media Academy. The initiative provides free short course certificates for young out-of-school girls in the areas of cinematography, video editing, computer studies, TV presenting and make up artistry.
For more information, see the initiative’s poster.
In 2015 four of our European members – Ban Ying (Germany), LEFÖ (Austria), La Strada (European network) and FIZ (Switzerland) celebrated important anniversaries. GAATW-IS congratulates them for their continued commitment to improving the lives of migrant women and victims of trafficking and wishes them many more years of successful work in the promotion and protection of the human rights of migrant women.
To mark these anniversaries we talked to Paula Riedemann (Ban Ying), Evelyn Probst (LEFÖ), Suzanne Hoff (La Strada International) and Shelley Berlowitz (FIZ) who reflected back on the situation with women’s migration and human trafficking in Europe in the past 30 years and what challenges and opportunities to look forward to.
What was the situation with women’s migration in the 80s and 90s and when and why was your organisation established?
Paula Riedemann: Ban Ying was established in 1989, and the counselling centre in 1990, by a group of social workers who identified a gap in the support offered to trafficked women from South East Asia. Back then, the focus was trafficking for sexual exploitation and for marriage. In 2001 our concept became broader and since then we work with women coming from all over the world; the focus on South East Asia still exists in our counselling work, though. At the present time we work with women trafficked for sexual exploitation as well as for exploitation in other labour sectors.
Evelyn Probst: LEFÖ was established in 1985 as a self-support organisation for Latin American women political exiles in Austria. It was a place for Latin American women to engage in political activism, to organise themselves and to provide education and social and psychological support to other migrant women coming from the region. Later, in the 1990s the organisation also identified the need to work on sex workers’ rights and trafficking in women. From the very beginning, as an organisation we lobbied for identification of trafficking as a broader phenomenon, focusing on female migrants and exploitation in fields where women typically work, like domestic work and sex work, but also in marriage.
Suzanne Hoff: With the fall of the Berlin Wall and the political and economic changes in the former Eastern Bloc countries, at the end of 1980s and beginning of 1990s, many people from Eastern Europe began migrating to Western Europe in search of a better life. The transition from planned economy to market economy affected in particular women, who had been employed in lower-wage professions in the industry and agriculture. The lack of legal opportunities for them to migrate and work in Western Europe pushed them into the hands of unscrupulous agencies and middlemen, who forced them to work in the sex industry in Western Europe.
To respond to the increasing numbers of Eastern European women working and vulnerable to exploitation in the sex industry in The Netherlands, La Strada was established as a project between NGOs in The Netherlands, Poland and Czech Republic in 1995 on initiative of the Dutch Foundation against trafficking in women (now Comensha/ La Strada Netherlands), which had been founded in 1987. From 1995 to 2000 the La Strada project was joined by organisations in Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Moldova and Ukraine. In 2015, it was 20 years ago that the La Strada programme started, aiming to create a European network for the prevention of human trafficking and referral and support to trafficked women. La Strada International was established in 2004 as a separate association.
Shelley Berlowitz: The trigger for the establishment of FIZ was a 1981 report by Télévision Suisse Romande about the conditions in which a young Filipinas worked and lived in a Zurich nightclub. Alarmed by these circumstances, a group of people from aid agencies, church-based institutions and women’s organizations formed; their aim was to become more active in combating the conditions which led to migrant women in this country being exploited in the sex trade, imported as docile wives into Switzerland or to be exploited abroad by Swiss sex tourists. They established FIZ, then named the ‘Third World Women’s Information Centre’, in 1985. The management board spread its net wide, including women in the countries from which the exploited migrant women came. FIZ’s aim was to raise public awareness and to lobby politically in favour of migrant women. As a result of the publicity more and more migrant women turned to FIZ for advice. In addition to the political work and public awareness, counselling migrant women on subjects such as migration laws, work conflicts, domestic violence, divorce etc. came to be the second element of FIZ. In 2004 FIZ opened Makasi - the specialised support and intervention programme for women survivors of trafficking. Since 2011 FIZ runs a housing shelter project for victims of trafficking.
Why do women migrate? Is there any difference in their motivations between then and now?
PR: The reasons for migrating have not changed so much in time. Lack of perspectives in the home country, experiences of violence and extreme poverty, hope for a better life but sometimes also for adventures, were the main reasons for migrating then and still are these days. Though, due to increasing restrictive migration laws and policies, migrating to Europe has become more difficult for them, and therefore more expensive and dangerous. One big difference between then and now is that through the Internet it is much easier for the women now to keep in contact with family and friends back home.
EP: LEFÖ was founded by Latin American women political exiles, which is a specific group and a specific reason for migration. And during our 30th anniversary conference in October 2015, one of the founders of LEFÖ said that we have to keep in mind that the people who are leaving now from Syria are also exiled, they are people who have no other chance and the government doesn’t want to have them anymore. So we can see a parallel between the situation in Latin America in the 70s and 80s and the current situation in Syria, Iraq, etc. Another parallel is that in many places, both then and now, there is no perception of women as independent and women have no possibility to be politically active and actively involved in society. As an organisation that works on trafficking but also migration, we have to open up spaces where women can be perceived with all their resources and not only seen as poor victims.
SH: People migrate for various reasons - they flee from wars and conflict, as we now see with the increasing number of conflict areas, but also leave for economic and personal reasons, because they have no access to employment, or are not able to live the life they want to live, or to offer a decent life for their children. In many parts of the world, including in Europe, discrimination and exclusion of certain groups and violence against women are widely spread, so the freedom from oppression is also a powerful motivation for migration. I don’t think the motivation for migration has changed, migration is of all times.
What has changed is that people have more access to information and are more aware what is happening in and outside their own countries and regions and this might have made it easier to leave. The world has become smaller and travelling - easier. Even though in many parts of the world, women are still not treated equally, women increasingly stand up for their rights and learn from other women that did so before them. We see that migrant women, domestic workers and sex workers, are organising and claiming their rights, which is a positive change.
SB: War, conflict and economic hardship have always been and are still the most common reasons for migration, but of course there are also women who migrate for better education or out of curiosity and adventure. Gender discrimination can also be a reason to migrate – sexual violence, exploitation, stereotyping. But stereotyping continues also after migration. Women migrating to Switzerland usually find jobs in the care sector, in households or as sex workers.
Economic migration then and now is usually a strategy concerning the family and not only individuals. Women often migrate in order to make a better life for their children and their family. Migrant women leave their children with their mothers and come to Switzerland in order to take care of other people’s children. Or they leave their parents in a nursing home and look after old people here. In this so called ‘global supply chain’ migrant women take over the responsibilities of women in Switzerland who work outside of their household. What remains constant is: care work is the duty of women.
What has changed are the migration laws in Switzerland: there is an icy wind directed at migrant women here in general, and sex workers in particular. Women from countries outside the EU were able to enter Switzerland until 31 December 2015 with a temporary permit as so called Cabaret-Dancers. Now this possibility is closed. The illegalisation of women will therefore increase – and with this also their vulnerability.
What have you learned from migrant women in these past 20-30 years?
PR: Women coming to Germany are courageous. At the same time, very few of them take the step to openly tell their families how difficult it has been and all the suffering they have been though, in order to be able to send money home. As a consequence, many of them have to deal with living a kind of ‘double life’, which results in an additional burden to them.
EP: We’ve learned that women should never stop demanding their rights, they should own their rights, even in this exclusive society. And the women that we support never stop speaking up, they try to be perceived as subjects, as people who have rights and demand them.
SH: We at La Strada have learned that every migrant woman’s life story is unique. Some succeed in achieving their goals, others face difficulties along the way. We have learned that, faced with limited opportunities at home, many women choose to migrate and work in the sex industry or take low-paid jobs and do not see themselves as victims and do not want to be seen as victims. As service providers and feminists, we accept and respect these choices and believe that everyone should be able to make their own decisions for their life. Of course, there are also many who are forced to work in the sex industry or other labour sectors or are dependent on others in the country of destination which makes them vulnerable to exploitation and abuse.
SB: The experience gained in advising migrant women has been incorporated into the basic principles of FIZ. In the early days of FIZ, there were diverse opinions within FIZ. Some co-workers saw sex work, marriage migration and cabaret work as phenomena similar to trafficking in women and usually migrant women were seen as victims. Over the years, attitudes and analyses have helped FIZ draw finer distinctions. The reality, as we have learned, is rather different: sex workers and marriage migrants are NOT victims , although the sex trade (like other precarious sectors) might be prone to exploitation and violence. In practice, it has become clear to us that we need different approaches for different situations.
In recent years, the prevention of human trafficking has been rebranded as ‘safe migration’. But many women who migrate have never actually known ‘safety’ or felt safe and sometimes actually migrate to improve their safety. What, in your opinion, can be done to improve the safety of women in the process of migration but also at the destination?
PR: Regardless of the country, women need to have access to financial independence and states should consistently fight gender-based violence. Also, there is a need for more structural support for motherhood. On the other hand, for women migrating to work as care or domestic workers, there need to exist better legal ways, such as specific visas and consequent legal protection.
EP: I think it’s a positive step that the concept of ‘safe migration’ was included in the discussion on trafficking but we have to be careful how we understand it. People sometimes leave also due to unsafe situations, and if we see the difficult situations of women, who are still subjected to gender-based violence, we have to be especially careful that it can be a very harmful practice, on the way and at the destination. And the construction of the poor victim who has to be protected from her nationals, again closes visible fields for women. And we have to remain critical of specific measures introduced by states, that reduce the mobility of women. But also in countries of destination, like Austria, we have to demand of the government that there are specific spaces that migrant women can use.
SH: I think it is time that women have access to equal rights and that their rights are better protected everywhere in the world. Even here in The Netherlands, where women’s rights are well recognised and respected, there is still a lot to do to address gender inequality. If women globally have equal rights and equal access to education and employment, and are able to make their own decisions, including decisions to migrate abroad or to travel alone, they become less dependent on others, which will increase their safety. For sure information helps and also access to legal channels to migrate, as well as access to legal employment .
SB: Women migrate from unsafe and precarious situations and often encounter violence and discrimination on the way and in the country they reach. Legal status and access to basic rights and labour rights are the most essential factors for safety. Switzerland must open up more legal migration channels and must make sure that migrants have access to the same rights at their workplace as Swiss people have.
What do migrant women themselves do to improve their own safety? How do they exercise their strength and agency?
EP: Organising themselves is certainly one way, which is how LEFÖ was founded. Organising, finding and using common spaces, protecting each other… These are all examples of exercising agency.
SH: Informing themselves is key, but also organising themselves and taking informed decisions. We at La Strada, similar to other anti-trafficking NGOs, believe it is important that when people decide to migrate for employment abroad, they are prepared, know what they can expect, check as much as possible the contracts they are offered, or if they leave without a job offer, know who they can contact or where they can receive information. Women can exercise their strength and agency by learning from each other, sharing experience and support each other, but also by asking for support and claiming their rights. It remains important that they can be independent and make their own decisions whatever the situation they are in.
SB: Taking the decision to migrate is itself a decision to improve their safety. Migrant women have to be informed about their rights and options in a comprehensive way. FIZ counsellors support clients on eye level; self-determination of the women is crucial. All interventions are discussed with the client and she is the one who takes decisions about her own life.
What challenges and opportunities do you see for women’s migration in the future? What developments do you see in the area of human trafficking in the future?
EP: I feel like migrant women are made invisible in the dominant discourses at the moment, especially here in Europe, where everyone is talking about the so-called ‘refugee crisis’. We oppose this term - yes, it’s a crisis but it’s a solidarity crisis, not a refugee or migrant crisis. And we have to be aware that when we are talking about female migration, to see and acknowledge the diversity of women and focus on anti-discrimination, that we keep the space open and ensure access to rights. And to ensure cooperation among countries of origin and destination in deconstructing stereotypes.
SH: We see a growing trend in the world towards the deregulation of labour and the erosion of human and labour rights, as well as growing xenophobia and anti-migrant sentiments and more border control and restrictions of people’s movement. In the name of preventing human trafficking, women are prevented from travelling. Similarly, there a growing call for criminalisation of prostitution in the name of ‘protecting women’, which in practice, makes women working in the sex industry more vulnerable and deprives them of their income and protection. It also seems accepted that migrant workers, in particular undocumented migrants, can be exploited and work without protection and adequate pay. Governments are responsible for the protection of human rights and businesses for respecting labour rights. With the current increasing migration and refugee flows and the tendency for offering less support, I am concerned that increasingly people will become vulnerable to exploitation and abuse in the future. Moreover human trafficking will remain and it will become even more obvious that it occurs in all countries, in a variety of forms and in formal and informal labour sectors.
Women should be empowered, in particular the most vulnerable ones, like undocumented women and refugees. Labour standards should be enforced and decent working conditions should be promoted to ensure that labour rights are applied to all workers irrespective of their gender, their migration or residence status. I think it is also important that there is more awareness and information about the origins of products and services, enabling customers to make informed decisions about their purchases and to promote products and services made without labour violations. Lastly it remains above all important that we report abuse and exploitation and identify trafficked persons and others whose rights have been violated and provide them with access to remedy.
SB: We fear that in the future migration laws in Switzerland will become even more restrictive than today. Also here, as in the rest of Europe, right wing parties are on the rise. At the same time as open borders are most needed, the borders are shut. Solidarity with migrants is needed more than ever.
Briefing Papers: ‘Towards greater accountability - Participatory Monitoring of Anti-Trafficking Initiatives’
To date, very little research has been done to consult trafficked people on assistance services and to seek their comments on the efficacy of the services they received, or needed, but did not receive. Therefore, in 2013, 17 GAATW Member Organisations across Latin America, Europe, and Asia undertook a participatory research project to look at their own assistance work from the perspective of trafficked persons. GAATW members interviewed 121 women, men and girls who lived through trafficking to find out about their experience of assistance interventions and their recovery process after trafficking. The project aimed to make the assistance programmes more responsive to the needs of the clients and to initiate a process of accountability on the part of all anti-trafficking organisations and institutions.
We published three briefing papers that highlight the main findings of what people who have been trafficked say about three important themes. Unmet Needs: Emotional support and care after trafficking (in Spanish) presents the experiences and suggestions of trafficked persons with regard to emotional support and psychological care, pointing to gaps as well as good practices. It shows the importance of (informal) emotional support and psychological assistance, the need to address the stigma and to work with the family and the benefits of peer support groups. Rebuilding Lives: The need for sustainable livelihoods after trafficking (in Spanish) presents what trafficked persons say about their need for sustainable livelihoods, and the assistance they received to get on with life after trafficking. It looks at the different options for rebuilding their lives in the country of origin or destination, and the importance of a secure income, which can be achieved through vocational or skills training, education or setting up a small business. Seeking Feedback from Trafficked Persons on Assistance Services: Principles and ethics (in Spanish) describes the ethical issues faced by the researchers and what measures they took to address them: protecting the privacy and safety, taking care of the emotional and psychological wellbeing, enabling equal participation and the benefits of this participation for the interviewees. The papers end with recommendations on how to improve the services provided to trafficked persons, taking into account their voices and participation.
Five new members join GAATW
GAATW is pleased to announce that four new organisations from Europe and Asia have joined our alliance. Pro-tukipiste (Pro Support Centre) from Finland provides social and health services and legal counselling to women, men and trans* people involved in the sex and erotic industry, as well as to people identified as victims of trafficking. RIKU (Victim Support Finland) provides support to victims of crimes and works with authorities to improve services, attitudes and legislation for victims of crime. Since 2015 the organisation is coordinating the Finnish national anti-trafficking NGO Platform. KOK from Germany is the national NGO network against trafficking in human beings, consisting of 37 counselling centres throughout the country. KOK coordinates the efforts of its member organisations and other stakeholders and advocates on the political level for protecting the rights of migrant women and victims of trafficking. Liberty Asia from Hong Kong uses technology to initiate solutions to support and enhance the work of frontline NGOs. The organisation has also set up an online Legal Resource Centre and offers trainings on victim identification and anti-trafficking laws to enhance the capacity of human rights practitioners in Hong Kong. Ovibashi Karmi Unnayan Program (OKUP) is a community-based migrants rights organisation that advocates for the human rights of all migrant workers across the borders including the rights of movement, rights of employment, rights of dignity, and the rights of health.
We warmly welcome our new members and we hope that with our expanded and strengthened alliance, we’ll be able to better uphold the rights and address the needs of women, men and children migrants and victims of exploitation and abuse.
IV Latin American Conference on Trafficking and Smuggling: ‘Labour trafficking, commercial sexual violence and sexual exploitation of adults’
GAATW members in Latin America and the International Secretariat participated in the IV Latin American Conference on Trafficking and Smuggling. The conference was held in La Paz, Bolivia in mid-October under the slogan: Building Networks, voices and views to decide and act. The purpose was to generate spaces for collective creation of knowledge and comprehensive proposals to combat human trafficking.
The conference gave us the opportunity to present the research ‘Towards Greater Accountability - Participatory Monitoring of Anti-Trafficking Initiatives’ which was done by our Latin American board member and executive director of the Peruvian member organisation CHS Alternativo, Andrea Querol and Nelson Rivera, deputy director of Fundacion Renacer. The focus of the presentation was on the regional and national findings of the research.
Also during the conference, the Anti-Trafficking Review (ATR) Issue 5 ‘Forced Labor and Human Trafficking’, was launched with the participation of Andrea Querol and Mike Dottridge, previous ATR guest editor and current member the Board of the Trustees of the UN Fund on Contemporary Forms of Slavery.
GAATW members in Latin America and the Caribbean, who took part in the accountability research, and the international secretariat used this opportunity to organise a common consultation meeting. The aim of this meeting was to share the findings of the evaluation of the research with the partners and the decisions from the Board and Strategy Meetings which took place at the end of September in Bangkok.
No easy exit – Migration bans affecting women from Nepal
Since large numbers of Nepali women began migrating for domestic work, reports have emerged of labour exploitation, physical and sexual abuse experienced abroad. Although some women report positive migration experiences, as the number of women migrants grow, so do the reports of exploitation. Many of these negative experiences concern migrant domestic workers in the Arab States.
Because of these developments, the Government of Nepal has adopted various labour migration policies specifically targeting women and the domestic work sector. These have largely focused on restricting women’s labour migration to the Gulf for low-skilled work.
This joint study of GAATW and ILO explores whether Nepal’s age ban has deterred younger women from migrating for domestic work and improved working conditions for women migrant domestic workers over 30 years of age. It also explores to what extent the age ban and other bans have had unintended consequences for women, including an increase in irregular migration and trafficking in persons. Finally, it highlights steps the women themselves propose be taken to improve their migration experiences.
The overall lesson of the study was that the migration bans reviewed did not prevent people from migrating and discriminated somewhat arbitrarily based on gender, class and age. Indeed they placed women at greater risk of abuse during the migration journey, and gave them less control over their migration experience. Based on these findings, it is suggested that, to be effective, protective polices must be introduced transparently, be well-publicised, and take a comprehensive and empowering approach. This would include more oversight of recruitment actors, more information and skills training for women, and more assistance services in Nepal and abroad for women in need of assistance.