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’

Accountability Briefing PapersTo 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

NoEasyExitSince 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.

The Hidden Harms of Anti-Trafficking

The hidden harms of ATOn 15 October, SWAN Vancouver held a forum, entitled ‘The Hidden Harms of Anti-Trafficking’, which brought together representatives of law enforcement, funders, advocates, social assistance providers and members of the general public. Dr Hayli Millar and Dr Tamara O’Doherty from the University of the Fraser Valley presented some of the main concerns raised by criminal justice system professionals in the report ‘The Palermo Protocol and Canada: The Evolution and Human Rights Impacts of Canadian Anti-trafficking Laws’. Mary W of Butterfly, a Toronto-based organisation that works with Asian and migrant sex workers, challenged the audience to re-think their ideas about sex work in her presentation ‘Oh Pretty Sexy! Critical Thinking About Consensual Sex Work’, while Elene Lam, also from Butterfly, presented ‘Anti-Trafficking: New Form of Sexism, Racism and Imperialism’. Dr Sarah Hunt from the University of British Columbia and GAATW Canada, focused in her presentation on the contradictions and tensions between anti-trafficking frameworks and decolonisation. Dr Julie Ham from the University of Hong Kong, discussed Vancouver sex workers’ perspectives on citizenship, residency and belonging in her presentation, ‘Sex Work and the Non-Migrant “Migrant”’. Kim Mackenzie of SWAN concluded the forum with her presentation on SWAN’s recently launched toolkit, ‘Myths, Misconceptions and Migrant Sex Workers: Realities of the Anti-Trafficked’.


Engaging the private sector to end human trafficking

Engaging the private sectorOn the occasion of the European day against trafficking in human beings, La Strada International and SOMO published a resource guide for NGOs, entitled ‘Engaging the Private Sector to End Human Trafficking’.

The role of businesses in human trafficking can range from being directly responsible for labour exploitation through coercive recruitment practices to being an important partner in prevention. The guide aims to provide NGOs with knowledge and tools to engage the private sector in their work by providing a wide selection of background materials, ranging from facts and figures to strategic advice.

Although the private sector is increasingly seen as an important stakeholder in anti-trafficking work, European NGOs working in the field have not yet started to fully engage corporations in their strategies and practices.

The Resource Guide aims to close this gap by providing guidance and background information for NGOs. Different vulnerable sectors and the role that corporations could potentially play in contributing to and preventing human trafficking are described. Steps are outlined that businesses can take to avoid contributing to human trafficking, based on existing guidelines and toolkits. The Guide explains UN, ILO and EU business and human rights frameworks and highlights their relevance to anti-trafficking work. Examples of private sector engagement from other NGO networks are given, ranging from campaigns for corporate justice and lodging complaints, to NGO-business partnering and multi-stakeholder initiatives. The last chapter provides information on which strategies NGOs can pursue to engage the private sector to tackle human trafficking and to hold corporations accountable.

Download the Resource Guide and Annex ‘Tools and Resources’.


Feminist Alliances in Sex Work

Feminist alliancesOn 16 and 17 December GAATW-IS attended a conference entitled ‘Feminist Alliances in Sex Work’, organised by our Spanish member Genera in Barcelona, Spain. The aim of the conference was to bring together sex workers, activists, anti-trafficking experts, students and academics and discuss the role of the sex workers rights movement within feminism and how alliances can be built with other movement for rights.

The conference focused around three main topics: ‘Abolitionism and neoliberal regulation: or how to build a non-capitalist model of sex work regulation’, ‘Feminist alliances in sex work, the role of feminist movements in the empowerment and self-organization’ and ‘Trafficking, looking for a self-discourse from the sex worker’s rights movement’. During the panels and workshops, participants spoke about stigma, their experience with the criminalisation of sex work in different countries and violence experienced by the police, and the frustration with the abolitionist discourse, equating all sex work with violence against women and trafficking. Participants stressed that the sex workers rights movement part of the feminist movement and that sex workers’ struggle against stigma, violence and discrimination is common for all women, however, they have often felt excluded from the ‘mainstream’ feminist movement. The sex workers rights movement is also a movement against poverty, oppression and racism and for sexual and reproductive rights, as well as labour rights. In this sense, the sex workers rights movement is a natural ally of organisations working for the rights of women, migrants, workers, LGBT people and victims of trafficking. Regarding human trafficking, it was pointed out that sex workers have the most interest in a ‘clean’ sex industry, without violence and trafficking, and that they should be consulted on the development and implementation of anti-trafficking measures. The conference ended with a small demonstration on the occasion of the International Day to End Violence against Sex Workers.

Photos, videos and presentations from the conference can be found on the conference website.


ECPAT Guatemala successfully lobbies to raise the legal marriage age to 18

In November Guatemala’s congress voted to raise the minimum legal age for marriage to 18. It had been 14 for girls and 16 for boys, though girls often married or entered legal unions much younger. This deeply rooted traditional practice often resulted in violations of children’s rights and reduced their access to education and opportunities in life.

ECPAT-Guatemala attended meetings of the Bureau of Security and Justice and made contributions to the drafting of the law, based on the provisions of the Law on Protection of Children and Adolescents and the results of the study on trafficking in persons for the purposes of sexual exploitation, labour exploitation and forced marriage. ECPAT-Guatemala team also made a brief investigation into the regulation of marriage of minors in other countries of Latin America and their respective exceptions when the legal age for marriage is 18 years. The result of this research was presented to the Bureau for Girls.

The Civil Code was reformed in November, prohibiting the marriage of persons under 18, but exceptionally, and on reasonable grounds, a judge may authorise the marriage of girls who have turned 16.

María Eugenia from ECPAT Guatemala welcomed this legislative change: “The amendment to the Civil Code is a very important step to enforce the human rights of Guatemalan children and adolescents. The increase of the marriage age will reduce the percentage of pregnancies among girls and adolescents and maternal deaths and newborn mortality in the country. It will also contribute to breaking the cycle of poverty and improve girls’ access to education, health and a productive life.”


Comprehensive analysis of Hong Kong legislation relating to human trafficking, corruption and money laundering and Data Protection Guidelines to better protect data of victims of human trafficking

In 2015, Liberty Asia released two new publications, in collaboration with Reed Smith Richards Butler.

The Hong Kong Legal Gap Analysis provides a clear and factual insight into Hong Kong’s existing legal framework. Hong Kong has not ratified the Palermo Protocol and the existing definition of human trafficking focuses only on cross-border trafficking for exploitation in prostitution. This excludes trafficking for labour exploitation, debt bondage, domestic servitude, slavery or practices similar to slavery or for the removal of organs, while forced labour is not even a criminal offence in Hong Kong. There is also no National Action Plan or a National Referral Mechanism, which would strengthen Hong Kong’s efforts in the areas of identification, prevention, prosecution and protection of the victims.

The gap analysis identifies key areas to strengthen the framework and offers insight into the interaction of the anti-corruption and anti-money laundering legal regime with human trafficking, forced labour and slavery offences.

You can download the full report or the overview.

The Data Protection Guidelines seek to clarify the legal protections available for victims of trafficking and to assist NGOs with protecting sensitive data to better serve their clients, and, ultimately strengthen the fight against slavery. Given the great quest for better data and the interest of numerous stakeholders in data collection, it is likely that essential data protection measures will unintentionally be overlooked. Somewhere along the lines the data becomes a statistic, a name and a number that is shared and disseminated, divorced from the vulnerable individual who owns the data. Misused sensitive information can lead to the identification of a very vulnerable individual who may be at risk of reprisals from a perpetrator. It is increasingly important that survivor data is treated and protected in accordance with the protections afforded by the law to ensure the proper checks and balances as prescribed by the law are used to protect vulnerable individuals.


‘From Peace at Home to Peace in the World: Make Education Safe for All’
16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence

Worec 16 daysLike in previous years, Women’s Rehabilitation Center (WOREC) celebrated 16 Days of Activism for violence against women by organising various events.

The first day, International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, was observed by coordinating and participating in a rally organised by the Ministry for Women, Children and Social Welfare and National Women’s Commission (NWC). The rally started from Bhrikuti Mandap and ended in Basantapur, where an assembly was organised. There was participation of different government and non-government organisations working to prevent violence against women in the country. There were banners and placards carried to relay the message.

The same day, WOREC launched Anbeshi during a ceremony at NWC. Anbeshi is a yearbook containing cases of violence against women from all over Nepal that WOREC has been publishing for the past eight years. In this year’s Anbeshi, WOREC recorded 1930 cases of violence against women directly and 598 cases have been collected through various national newspapers. Among these almost 70% were related to domestic violence, 14% to social violence, 5% to rape and sexual violence, 4% to trafficking and attempt to trafficking and 1% murder.

On the following days, WOREC held orientation programmes entitled ‘Widening Knowledge: Sharing dimension and Status of Violence against Women through Anbeshi’ in different colleges. The team of WOREC visited colleges in Kathmandu and Lalitpur to share, inform and sensitise both students and teachers about the dimension, status, correlation and magnitude of Violence against Women (VAW) and its adverse effects on women through the findings of ‘Anbeshi’.

The programme was exclusively designed to focus on students and teachers to ensure women and girls’ right to education in a safe environment. When youngsters are involved in a campaign and informed about their rights, the deeper social transformation is more likely to happen sooner. WOREC believes in youth as a change maker against violence against women by addressing behavioural and structural issues that stimulate VAW.

On 30 November there was an interaction programme organised on the topic ‘Revisiting SAARC Convention against Trafficking to Strengthen its Comprehensiveness and Effectiveness’. The programme was organised to reflect the existing realities of trafficking in South Asia and the current relevance of SAARC Trafficking Convention and develop appropriate text and plan of action along with the government of Nepal to propose for its revision.

Representatives from government organisations, constitutional bodies, international non-government organisations, trade unions and media took part in the programme. The SAARC Convention on Preventing and Combating Trafficking in Women and Children for Prostitution was signed in 2002 and was considered to be a landmark in eradicating trafficking in the region. However, the Convention does not comply with internationally agreed definitions of trafficking and is limited to trafficking for commercial sex work only. It also completely excludes trafficking of men. Over the years, the trend of trafficking has changed significantly from trafficking for commercial sexual exploitation to trafficking for forced labour, organ trading and servitude, among others. The Convention restricts women’s right to free movement and criminalises voluntary sex work, and addresses the problem of trafficking from a moralistic and protectionist perspective. The programme came out with an action plan and formed a working group to develop recommendations for the government of Nepal.

On 3 December WOREC organised an Oratory Contest, where students from different colleges expressed their opinion about women’s rights and violence against women.

On 4 and 5 December there was an interaction programme with the earthquake survivors and the staff working in the Sneha Campaign. The Sneha Campaign was initiated by WOREC post-earthquake to support the survivors, especially pregnant and lactating women, women with disabilities, adolescent girls and elderly women. Since then many activities, including psychosocial counselling, orientations, trainings and health camps have been conducted in 12 earthquake affected districts of Nepal. On the occasion of the 16 Days of Activism, there was experience sharing of the staffs working for the relief activities regarding their challenges, leanings and achievements. There were also discussions regarding the participation and access of women in the reconstruction and rehabilitation plan of the government.

On the final day of 16 Days of Activism, WOREC participated in a rally organised by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC).


GAATW e-Bulletin

ebulletin09_2GAATW e-bulletin is sent out to all member organisations of the Alliance as well as to many of its friends and sister NGOs worldwide.

The e-bulletin is published every three months. A Spanish version goes out to REDLAC members a few days after the English version. Sometimes additional follow-up information and/or reminders are also sent via email member organisations.

Primarily a tool for communication between the International Secretariat and the Alliance members, the e-bulletin aims to cover a broad range of topics although trafficking related issues remain its special focus. The bulletin does not have a rigid format; while some issues may contain news clips others may have an opinion piece or a report. We also use this e-bulletin to inform members about upcoming events and provide regular updates about the Secretariat.

We strongly encourage members and friends to send us their input to the e-bulletin at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

2016 e-Bulletin

2015 e-Bulletin 

2014 e-Bulletin

Previous issues:

2010 GAATW Advocacy Update


Previous Issues

Access to Justice bulletins

atjCentring Rights -This specialised e-Bulletin offers a platform of exchange for a broad and diverse community with one common goal: centring the rights of trafficked persons in the justice process.



2007, Issue No. 1-9 [1,112 KB]

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