Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women

Human Rights
at home, abroad and on the way...


Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women

Human Rights
at home, abroad and on the way...

Events and News

Interview with Betty Pedraza Lozano from Espacios de Mujer

IMG 20150727

Versión en español

Betty Pedraza Lozano, director of Corporación Espacios de Mujer, was one of eight people awarded the annual “TIP Report Hero Acting to End Modern Slavery Award” by the United States Department of State on 27 July. The award recognises the work carried out by different people, in different parts of the world, to end human trafficking. Betty Pedraza Lozano has been recognised for her commitment to the prevention of trafficking, her support of trafficked persons in Colombia and her work for the rights of all women and men who have survived human trafficking.

Chus Álvarez (GAATW-IS): Betty, you're the first Colombian winner of this award, how do you feel?

Betty Pedraza: This was the first time that a Colombian woman was nominated, and we won! I remember when the US Embassy called me informing me that I had won the prize, I told them that it must be a mistake, that I had not summited my name to any award. I could not believe it! I learned later that it was the American Embassy in Bogota who presented my candidacy, and I am delighted to have been awarded the prize.

C.A.: What does this award mean for Espacios de Mujer?

B.P.: It is recognition for all the people and organisations that have supported us over the years. It is hoped that, through this award, we will do more inter-agency partnerships between NGOs, governments and private companies in order to have adequate human and financial resources to address the fight against human trafficking.

C.A.: How and why was Espacios de Mujer founded?

B.P.: Espacios de Mujer was founded in 2004, after an experience of international cooperation with the Italian association PRO.DO.CS. The project was focused on self-recognition and empowerment of women in prostitution in the city of Medellin. When this project finished, we decided to continue our work with this group, which is highly marginalised. From the beginning we decided to help by improving the living standards of women who were working in prostitution in Medellin and Antioquia. We support these women to acquire tools that enable them to exercise their rights, as women and as a specific occupational group, and to ply their profession as sex workers in a dignified and safe way.

C.A.: What characterises and distinguishes you from other entities or organisations working against trafficking in women?

B.P.: I would say that what characterises us is the gender perspective from which we analyse reality in general plus the very dynamics of the context of prostitution and trafficking in particular. Through our daily work we have realised that we still need a lot of education and training institutions to identify what trafficking is about and how it can be prevented. We have therefore developed the kit "Maleta de viaje” (Suitcase), a material publication that we are very proud of. I had the opportunity to share the kit with those in charge of trafficking issues in the US Department of State and they even kept one.

This gender perspective allows us to demonstrate that trafficked persons in areas where we work are especially women - in a percentage ranging from 80% to 95% - and that they are mostly subject to sexual exploitation. Trafficked women also report various types of exploitation, such as domestic work, servile marriage, and other forms of slavery. From this perspective, one cannot ignore the factors that contribute to the vulnerability of the female population and the ancestral permissiveness of using the female body as a commodity, resulting from asymmetrical power relations and ideologies of sexist and patriarchal tradition.

C.A.: What was your inspiration in the fight for the rights of trafficked persons?

B.P.: Thousands of Colombian children, women and men suffer in silence, either because they are sexually exploited, subjected to forced labour, pressured into exercising degrading work or remain in servitude or are forced to work in conditions similar to slavery.

According to Espacios de Mujer, about seventy thousand people are trafficked every year in Colombia. The Valle del Cauca, Risaralda (part of the coffee zone) and Antioquia, are the three main provinces of origin of trafficked persons and an internal trafficking destination. What these three areas have in common is the fact that for decades they have been impacted by drug trafficking. Added to that has been the presence of armed groups, operating outside the law since the late eighties. Here, sexual exploitation, forced labour and slavery are the most common forms of trafficking.

In Colombia, internal trafficking is a significant problem. This country ranks among the regions with the highest number of trafficked persons. In its ten years of activity, Espacios de Mujer has served 101 trafficked people: 42 from other countries and 59 victims of internal trafficking. Of these, 97 were women and only 4 were men. The modes of abuse range from sexual exploitation to forced labour, servile marriage to domestic service.

C.A.: What do you think is the biggest mistake in the fight against human trafficking?

B.P.: I would point out two errors mainly. On the one hand, the lack of coordination between competent institutions to fight trafficking and protect victims and survivors. On the other hand, the lack of commitment of the State to provide protection to trafficked persons, including the tracking and support during the court proceedings.

For the elimination of trafficking, it is necessary to assure not only the work of prevention, care and protection in countries of origin, but also the commitment and political will in destination countries. Solidarity and support for the restoration of rights to women who have been trafficked should be our goal.

C.A.: And as for progress, what do you see as the principal accomplishments?

B.P.: In 2013 we participated in the creation of the “Alliance of Colombian Civil Society Organisations to Combat Trafficking in Persons” which currently consists of 24 civil society organisations. Espacios de Mujer even got funding to hold the first meeting! In 2014, we began to make recommendations for the implementation of public policy, mainly in the areas of care and prevention.

C.A.: What are the main recommendations that this Alliance has made to Colombian public policy on anti-trafficking?

B.P.: Among the recommendations made, I will highlight tackling trafficking in persons in all its forms with commitment and efficiency; give trafficked persons differential attention; clearly establish a database concerning cases of human trafficking and have pedagogical multipliers, for example policemen and teachers.

C.A.: Espacios de Mujer has recently been part of an international study with people who have survived trafficking conducted by GAATW. The main objective of the study was to know the opinion of people who have survived trafficking, regarding the care received by the institutions, both public and private, and about the services available to them to overcome the trafficking situation. What would you underline from this study?

B.P.: I would like to underline that for first time, victims and survivors were heard and were able to express their opinions on the care received and how they felt in the process of restoration of their rights.

C.A.: What did the interviewed women say were their best and worst experiences?

B.P.: The best was that their voices were heard and the support they received in the psychosocial processes. The worst was the indifference of the State to their situation and the lack of protection in their victim situations.

C.A.: What would you like the whole world to know about human trafficking?

B.P.: I would like everyone to know that trafficking happens in everyday life, and everyday life is where prevention is possible. It is essential to inform, sensitise and train civil society, clarifying certain concepts and clarifying what we mean when we talk about trafficking.

C.A.: Finally, we want to ask you to share the most inspiring words you have heard in your daily work of direct care.

B.P.: The women we work with have always expressed the empowerment they feel during the process: “Women reach Espacios de Mujer feeling low, broken up and leave here with our heads held high because we have the same rights as everyone. Thank you that we have been taught to fight and move forward despite adversity”. 

Versión en español

E-Bulletin October 2015: News from our Member Organisations

“Towards Greater Accountability - Participatory Monitoring of Anti-Trafficking Initiatives” - Latin America Report

Hacia Una Mayor Rendicion GAATW2015

During 2013-14 GAATW-IS initiated and steered a project entitled "Towards greater accountability - Participatory Monitoring of Anti-Trafficking Initiatives”. In the framework of this project, 17 GAATW member organisations from Asia, Europe and Latin America carried out researches to find out from trafficked persons their perceptions and views of the support services they received.

The researches reaffirmed the rights of trafficked persons to express their voices and ensured that service providing organisations incorporated their feedback in future work. Participating colleagues from the Latin American region have put together their research reports into a regional report that can be downloaded from GAATW-IS Website. Click here for the executive summary in English, the full report in Spanish or the executive summary in Spanish.  


Building Bridges to Combat Commercial Sexual Exploitation and Trafficking of Children and Adolescents

Within the Stepping Stones Project, "Building Bridges to combat commercial sexual exploitation and trafficking of children and adolescents", the Dutch development foundation ICCO published a comparative study of policy processes, plans and national laws on commercial sexual violence and trafficking of children and adolescents in five South American countries. The participating organisations are Centro Humanitario de Apoyo a la Mujer - CHAME (Brazil), Fundación La Paz (Bolivia), Fundación Renacer (Colombia), Organización Luna Nueva (Paraguay) and Organización Capital Humano e Social - CHS (Perú).

The publication is based on national studies, conducted in each of the partner countries, which analysed the existing legislation and the conceptual definitions used, as well as the practical application of these policies. It aims to provide an overview of the advances in the legal framework, as well as the strategies, plans and programmes currently executed by their governments in order to address the trafficking and smuggling of children and adolescents. It makes recommendations for future steps and specific actions that need to be taken in the region.


Fourth Latin American Conference on Human Trafficking and Smuggling

"Labour exploitation, commercial sexual violence and sexual exploitation of adults"

GAATW-IS and some members from Latin America are participating in the Fourth Latin American Congress on Trafficking and Smuggling. The Congress is held in La Paz, Bolivia on 14-16 October under the slogan: Building networks, voices and views to decide and act.

GAATW members are presenting the findings of their Accountability Research at the Conference. GAATW-IS is also doing a second launch of issue 5 of the Anti-Trafficking Review at the conference. There will also be a half-day meeting with members who are present at the conference.


E-Bulletin October 2015: News from the GAATW International Secretariat

Labour Trafficking Case Analysis Workshop


The Access to Justice Programme of GAATW-IS currently has a South Asia-Middle East focus. We are engaged in a two-year project that aims to identify and address barriers that trafficked overseas migrant workers from South Asia face in countries of origin and destination when accessing justice. The project focuses on workers from India, Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka in Kuwait, Lebanon and Jordan. While the primary focus is on countries of destination, keeping in mind the continuum of rights violation that workers face, the project aims to analyse the scenario at both ends and hopes to strengthen coordination among NGOs providing legal and psychosocial assistance to migrant workers.

To begin this project, GAATW and partner organisations participated in three labour exploitation case analysis and documentation workshops, which took place on 31 July – 3 August in Bangkok, Thailand, 24-25 August in Beirut, Lebanon and 31 August – 1 September in Amman, Jordan. The Bangkok workshop brought together representatives from Nepal, India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and Cambodia. The Beirut workshop included local trade unions and Lebanese organisations that provide legal aid to domestic workers. Participants in the Amman workshop came from Kuwait, as well as Jordan, and also included officials from the Ministry of Justice of Jordan and the Jordanian Public Security Department’s Counter-Trafficking Unit.

All partners in this project are legal service providers and have some kind of internal system to record and analyse the complaints they receive from migrant workers. However, the types of legal services they provide vary and are often only a part of the many types of assistance available from the organisation. Our desk research and discussions with partners indicate that, while it has been possible to use the national anti-trafficking legislation to seek redress for abused domestic workers in countries like Lebanon and Jordan, it is not the case in other focus countries of the project. Therefore, the project used these workshops as an opportunity to understand the reasons behind this limited use of anti-trafficking legislation. It was also important to understand why on many occasions, non-legal solutions are seen as more practical and just solutions to rights violations of migrant workers. Through discussions on how each organisation and its beneficiaries view justice, the barriers trafficked migrant workers face when accessing justice, the most common types of cases the participants take, examples of good practices for providing legal aid to trafficked migrant workers, and ideas and goals for future collaboration, the workshops provided the participants and the Access to Justice Programme with an initial starting point to help develop action plans for the future work of the project. A full summary of the discussions will be available shortly.



Community Workers Training: Work in Freedom Project

CommunityWorkersTraining WIF Bangladesh

In July and September 2015, GAATW-IS and two partner organisations from Bangladesh, Ovibashi Karmi Unnayan Program (OKUP) and Association for Community Development (ACD), co-organised training workshops for Community Workers within the Work in Freedom project. The workshops brought together field workers, community trainers and project staff with the aim to strengthen their human rights-based perspective and conceptual clarity on trafficking and migration, and at the same time to enhance the capacity of partner organisations to support women in their communities in making well informed decisions about safe migration.

The training sessions focused on enhancing the participants’ understanding of women’s labour migration from a human rights perspective and the trafficking-migration nexus. The workshop was also an opportunity to reflect on the strengths and challenges of community interventions and understanding the empowerment process in the lived realities of women in the communities where our partners work. 


Launch of Anti-Trafficking Review, Issue 5, ‘Forced Labour and Human Trafficking’

ATR5 launch

29 September, GAATW launched the 5th issue of the Anti-Trafficking Review in Bangkok, in conjunction with the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. All articles from the issue, guest edited by Nicola Piper and Marie Segrave, are freely available at

Two authors presented their research at the launch event, and GAATW founder Dr. Jyoti Sanghera moderated.

Anna Olsen from the ILO GMS TRIANGLE project presented The Role of Trade Unions in Reducing Migrant Workers’ Vulnerability to Forced Labour and Human Trafficking in the Greater Mekong Subregion, describing trade union work in Thailand and Malaysia to overcome challenges to unionisation of migrant workers. Though unionisation rates remain low in the region, collective bargaining is important in the fight against forced labour and trafficking. Anna Olsen and co-author Eliza Marks describe a ‘labour approach’ to anti-trafficking in their paper, involving systemic changes to ensure labour protections for all. They argue that a ‘labour approach’ would be beneficial to anti-trafficking work globally.

The second paper, presented by Daphne Demetriou, was ‘Tied Visas’ and Inadequate Labour Protections: A formula for abuse and exploitation of migrant domestic workers in the United Kingdom. In the new Modern Slavery Act the ‘kafala’-type visa for domestic workers remains, despite active NGO lobby to abolish it. In addition, labour laws are only selectively applied to domestic workers. Workers with a visa tied to one employer often find themselves trapped in exploitative situations without the ability to leave or access justice. The restrictive immigration regime has increased instances of abuses in the domestic work sector in the UK. Better immigration laws are needed to protect the rights of domestic workers.

See these and other articles on the journal’s website


Media Workshop: ‘Women: Agents Of Change Or Victims Of Abuse? : Reporting Labour Migration’

Media workshopGAATW International Secretariat organised a four-day workshop on 3-6 October 2015 in Bangkok as part of GAATW’s efforts to bring back the focus on women migrants from victims and sensationalised objects to agents of change, and subjects of hope, determination, and self-reliance.

The workshop brought together journalists from Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Sri Lanka to share and analyse the way women migrants are portrayed and to better understand from them what drives a story and how articles are framed. Participants received detailed information about the international legal framework on migration, human rights and gender and also had the chance to visit organisations supporting migrant workers in Bangkok and learn first-hand about the difficulties that migrant workers and their families in Thailand face. At the end of the workshop, a plan was drawn up to strengthen affirmative and realistic reporting on labour migration through an enhanced focus on accuracy, fairness, balance, human rights and representation of migrant women in the media. 


Photo Story: Daily life of community workers in Nepal

In February, GAATW-IS was privileged to visit colleagues from People’s Forum, ABC-Nepal, WOREC and Pourakhi working with migrating women in Chitwan, Rupandehi, Morang and Dolakha districts of Nepal.

GAATW-IS and the above mentioned NGOs are partners in a project called Work in Freedom, which the International Labour Organisation is implementing with financial support from the Department International Development (DFID), UK. The project aims to reduce trafficking of women from India, Nepal and Bangladesh who migrate to the Middle East to work in the domestic work sector.

In July 2014, GAATW-IS conducted a two-week long residential capacity-building Training of Trainers for NGO colleagues on Women, Work and Migration. Following the training, our trainees have conducted sessions for a number of peer educators and social mobilisers. It is those frontline workers who are interacting with women in the villages of the focus districts. These community workers aim to enable women to take well thought-out and informed decisions regarding their overseas labour migration.

Our meetings with the peer educators in the districts were truly humbling and inspiring. We were impressed by their dedication to the work and commitment to women’s rights. Many were returnee migrant workers themselves and had first-hand experience of overseas labour migration. Thus they were able to communicate with the women in communities with empathy. Many displayed strong leadership qualities. We feel that given adequate training support, the peer-educators could steer the social change processes in the villages.

The photo story below is our tribute to the peer educators we met during our visit.

PhotoStory 1One community worker said that she was inspired to work as a peer educator after hearing about the challenges that migrant workers face.

PhotoStory 2As well as door-to-door visits, peer educators also organise focus group discussions and pre-decision-making training for potential migrants.

PhotoStory 3The recognition and appreciation from the community keeps peer educators motivated to do the work.

PhotoStory 4 


 ‘It takes me 2-3 hours to walk in the forest to reach the community.’ Peer educator










PhotoStory 5 

‘My role is to give the right information. I feel happy when I can give information to a large number of people. If I could only reach out to more people, then more people would receive information before they decide to migrate.’ Peer educator

PhotoStory 6 

‘My top priority is to give the right information to women.’ Peer educator

PhotoStory 7One peer educator said that the role gave her a chance to stay and work in the village, rather than migrate for work. She was also able to share her knowledge with women in the community.


e-Bulletin June 2015: News from our Member Organisations

La Strada International celebrates 20th anniversary at annual NGO platform

LSI NGO Platform.06.2015La Strada International (LSI), Netherlands, brought together NGOs working on anti-trafficking, migrant rights and sex worker rights from across Europe at its NGO Platform meeting in May. Hosted by Open Gate/LSI Macedonia, the event looked back over the successes and challenges in anti-trafficking in the last 20 years, and asked participants to contribute ideas for future work.

Participants shared their experiences on four key issues: monitoring and evaluation, identification of trafficked persons, involving the voices of trafficked persons in programming, and developing partnerships with business. The ‘voices of trafficked persons’ session presented GAATW’s Accountability research project, during which 17 Member Organisations interviewed trafficked persons about their experiences of assistance services. The participating Member Organisations at the session agreed that the research has helped them involve the opinions of trafficked persons in their work and view services from the trafficked person’s perspective.

GAATW was present at the event to speak on a panel looking back over the last 15 years of the Trafficking Protocol. We are really pleased that we joined our members at this year’s NGO Platform and would like to congratulate LSI on its 20th anniversary. Congratulations also go to Open Gate, which celebrates its 15th anniversary this year.

If you would like to contribute your news to our members’ section of the e-Bulletin, please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. 

Workshop on the drafting of a Policy Paper on the Protection of Trafficked Women Migrant Workers

LRCKJHAM Workshop.06.2015LRC-KJHAM coordinated a workshop on the drafting of a policy paper to amend Law No. 39, 2004 on Migrant Workers Placement and Protection, from 16-18 May 2015 in Semarang, Indonesia. The workshop gathered together representatives from Indonesia-based GAATW member organisations (Institut Perempuan, ATKI-Indonesia, Migrant Group Wedoro) and other migrant rights groups to discuss their experiences in handling trafficking cases and policy advocacy initiatives. The workshop also highlighted the results from GAATW’s recent research on participatory monitoring of Anti-Trafficking Initiatives, where LRCKJHAM is one of the project partners. In the research project, LRCKJHAM highlights the need for immediate services and comprehensive recovery for victims of trafficking and abused migrant workers. They also noted the poor conditions in shelters and inadequate psychological recovery services for victims.

LRCKJHAM is planning to hold another workshop to consult more migrant rights organisation and to finalise the policy paper for their lobbying activities at the national level.   


Strategic Thematic Direction

During 2011-13, through our Power in Migration and Work thematic programme, we engaged more directly with the migrant rights and labour rights movements. During 2014-2016 our work will build on the work of previous years; we will continue to push for a human rights based approach in anti-trafficking policies and practices.  We will also deepen our engagement with the issue of migration and labour.

The three thematic strategic issues outlined below are continuations of our work during 2011-13.

ACCOUNTABILITY Increasing the accountability of all anti-trafficking stakeholders involved in the design or implementation of anti-trafficking responses, towards the persons whose human rights they purport to protect.

ACCESS TO JUSTICE Broadening spaces for trafficked persons and migrant workers to practice their human rights by improving access to justice and combating all forms of discrimination that impact women’s ability to exercise their human rights as they relate to trafficking.

POWER IN MIGRATION AND WORK Centring an analysis of women’s power in their labour and migration to better assess migration and labour policies’ impact on women, and to work towards labour and migration processes that reflect migrants’ needs, aspirations and capabilities.