Letter to the President of the HRC on the recruitment of the SR on Trafficking

His Excellency Mr. Baudelaire Ndong Ella
Permanent Representative
President of the Human Rights Council, Eighth Cycle (2014)
Avenue de France 23 (3rd Floor, Level R)
1202 Geneva


29 May 2014

Your Excellency,

The undersigned organisations and activists urge you to ensure that the recruitment of a new Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially women and children (Special Rapporteur), in addition to meeting the criteria of: expertise; experience in the field of the mandate; independence; impartiality; personal integrity; and objectivity, leads to the appointment of a mandate-holder who will be attentive to the full breadth of human rights violations associated with trafficking in persons.

The usefulness of the mandate requires that the Special Rapporteur understands to apply the human rights framework and draws on a verifiable evidence base, rather than take an ideological approach to the issue of human trafficking. This mandate speaks for a group of people that are often highly marginalised as a result of multiple levels of oppression and have little opportunity to advocate for themselves. It is critical that the Special Rapporteur is able to do this without bias.

Too often this work is riven with disagreement over the issue of prostitution / sex work. However, the adoption of the UN Protocol to Prevent, Supress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especial Women and Children (Trafficking Protocol) in 2000, supplementing the Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, created a definition of human trafficking that aimed to fit the violation: not limited to the sex industry/prostitution, it covers exploitation in any industry where force or fraud are used in recruitment. In the years since the adoption of the Trafficking Protocol, research by anti-trafficking activists has demonstrated that a narrow interpretation of the issue, focused on the sex sector, too often does not help individuals who have been trafficked and does harm to the human rights of other workers, including migrant workers. It is vital that the Special Rapporteur is able to address human trafficking wherever it occurs and respect individuals’ agency and choices about their work, migration, and lives.

It is important both for the credibility of the special procedures and for the people that this mandate is intended to represent, that the new mandate holder must have at least the following qualities:

  • Extensive understanding of and commitment to the breadth of the UN Trafficking Protocol and international human rights law
  • Strong knowledge of and commitment to the Office of the High Commissioner’s Recommended Principles and Guidelines on Human Rights and Human Trafficking
  • A record of high calibre, impartial and objective evidence-based research
  • A record of transparency and willingness to work with all parts of civil society, not only those organisations that share a similar position on prostitution or any other issue
  • A commitment to providing a strong voice for trafficked persons and those at risk of trafficking, based whenever possible on evidence gathered directly from these affected groups
  • High personal integrity

We look forward to working with the appointed candidate.

Yours sincerely,

Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women (GAATW)

The International La Strada Association, a European anti-trafficking network with 8 members in Europe

FairWork, the Netherlands

Ban Ying, Germany

Supporting Women’s Alternatives Network (SWAN Vancouver Society), Canada

Sex Workers Project at the Urban Justice Center, USA

Centro de Orientacion e Investigacion Integral (COIN), Dominican Republic

Capital Humano y Social Alternativo, Perú

LEFÖ - Information, Education and Support for Migrant Women, Austria

Brigada Callejera de Apoyo a la Mujer "Elisa Martínez", Mexico

Associacao de Defesa da Mulher, da Infancia e da Juventude (ASBRAD), Brazil

Meena Saraswathi Seshu, General Secretary, SANGRAM, India

Esther Shannon, FIRST CO-founder, Canada

Victoria Nwogu, Nigeria

Liyana Pavon, Dominican Republic

GAATW welcomes the appointment of Maria Grazia Giammarinaro as the new Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially women and children

The Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women welcomes the appointment of Maria Grazia Giammarinaro as the new Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially women and children.

Maria Grazia Giammarinaro is one of the foremost experts on trafficking. Currently an Italian penal judge, and until recently the OSCE Special Representative and Co-ordinator for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings, she was appointed in recognition of her qualifications and her experience working with a variety of stakeholders on the issue.

Human trafficking is a human rights violation that generates considerable interest from governments, NGOs, media, and other actors. In spite of this good will, too often responses are based on misinformation, politics, or moral positions, and do not respect the agency of people who have been trafficked, and their choices about their work, migration, and lives. In her work at the OSCE, Ms. Giammarinaro included critical issues for trafficked persons of decent working conditions, social inclusion, and the right to effective remedy, amongst other concerns.

GAATW looks forward to working with Ms. Giammarinaro, as we did with her predecessors, most recently Joy Ngozi Ezeilo, to push for an evidence-based approach to anti-trafficking work that is attentive to the full breadth of human rights violations associated with trafficking in persons.

The Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons is one of the special procedures of the Human Rights Council. These are independent human rights experts with mandates to report annually to the Council and advise on human rights from a thematic or country-specific perspective. The appointment of Maria Grazia Giammarinaro as the Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons was formally announced at the 26th session of the UN Human Rights Council on Friday 27 June 2014.

GAATW at 20


GAATW2014 logo_thumbnailThe 20th anniversary of GAATW will be an occasion to take stock of our work and define the priorities for the alliance in consultation with members and friends. Together with members we will showcase and analyze current programmes and plan next steps. We will also look at emerging issues, try to define challenges and opportunities and plan our steps for engagement.




GAATW International Members Congress (IMC)
23-26 September - Bangkok, Thailand

Super Bowl? Or Super Hyperbole?

Around this time every year we notice a spike in press coverage, especially in US media, about a projected rise in trafficking for sex in whichever US state is hosting the Super Bowl. It is an idea that is used to frame prostitution abolitionist and/or anti-migrant sentiments in a more humanitarian form. This moral panic starts over a year in advance of the event: the first story we noticed for the 2014 Super Bowl in New Jersey was published back in August 2012.

GAATW’s 2011 report, What’s the Cost of a Rumour? A guide to sorting out the myths and the facts about sporting events and trafficking, critically analysed this manufactured media hype about the role of international sporting events in creating a “demand” for trafficked women and children. Although this always generates a lot of media attention, action by anti-prostitution groups and law enforcement, and funding for anti-trafficking activities by state actors and NGOs, there is no evidence to support the claim. Subsequent research on more recent sporting events has confirmed this finding, for example here, here and here.

One of the recommendations from our research was to challenge misleading and harmful campaigns. This year that is happening, with a number of articles appearing across blogs, independent and mainstream media challenging the myth of major sporting events sparking a rise in trafficking into the sex sector.

Here’s a selection of the articles we’ve spotted (in date order). We’re glad that many of the writers have found our research useful. They raise a range of concerns about the trafficking hype generated in advance of Super Bowl XLVIII, including the bad policy decisions that flow from it - what GAATW has termed ‘collateral damage’ (examined in detail in our 2007 report, see also an article by Melissa Gira Grant on this in the context of last year’s Super Bowl moral panic here) - and the over-simplification of trafficking in persons as a one-off event instead of addressing it as a complex issue involving factors such as migration and labour rights:

  • The real criminals are the cops: Superbowl hype questioned, Best Practices Policy Project (BPPP), BPPP, 28 January
  • The Sex Trafficking Super Bowl Myth, Susan Elizabeth Shepard, Sports on Earth, 29 January
  • The Super Bowl trafficking myth: Every game brings warnings of a boom in forced prostitution -- but there's no evidence, Tracy Clark-Flory, Salon, 30 January
  • FactChecker: Super Bowl Sex Trafficking and Other Myths, Joe Carter, The Gospel Coalition, 30 January
  • Just in Time for February, the Myth of Sex Trafficking and the Super Bowl Returns, Anna Merlan, The Village Voice, 30 January
  • The Super Bowl and Sex Trafficking, Kate Mogulescu, The New York Times, 31 January
  • Debunking The Urban Legend of Super Bowl Sex Trafficking, Daily Kos, 01 February
  • Do Sex Traffickers Really Target the Super Bowl?, Mother Jones, 01 February
  • The Myths Surrounding Sex Work and the Super Bowl, Women with a Vision, 02 February
  • Breaking the Super Bowl-Sex Trafficking Link, Melissa Harris-Perry, MSNBC, 02 February
  • The Reality of Trafficking at the Super Bowl, Melissa Harris-Perry, MSNBC, 02 February

There are several major sporting events this year in addition to this Sunday’s events in New Jersey: the winter Olympics start soon (7-23 February, Sochi, Russia), then we’ve got the World Cup (12 June to 13 July, Rio, Brazil) and the Commonwealth Games (23 July to 3 August, Glasgow, UK). We hope that we will see a more informed approach to human and labour rights abuses in the lead up to and at these events instead of a reliance on myths, and that anti-trafficking efforts will be based on evidence, not sensationalism and ideology.

GAATW-IS, 1 February 2014

(updated 3 February 2014)


Call for Applications                           


GAATW International Secretariat and Kolkata-Sanved are co-organising a workshop on Dance Movement Therapy for women colleagues providing psycho-social assistance to trafficked and/or abused women migrant workers in Asia: 


Dance Movement Therapy Workshop for Care Givers


What is Dance Movement Therapy (DMT) & What it is Not?

Dance/Movement Therapy (DMT) is defined by the American Dance Therapy Association (ADTA) as "The psychotherapeutic use of movement as a process which furthers the emotional, cognitive and physical integration of the individual."

DMT offers the individual the opportunities to be expressive, release tension or trauma, find their inner voice, and their independence. It can be practiced both as an individual and within group therapy in; health, education, social service settings and in private practice. It is founded on the principle that movement reflects an individual’s patterns of thinking and feeling. DMT can help participants shift to a more positive self image, less satisfying behaviors can be transformed to healthier expressions, and social struggles can be worked through alternative movement outlets.  Psycho-physical techniques can provide new hope and possibilities for people who suffer from the pain and hardship of life’s psychological and social problems.

The foundations of DMT are formed from three influences; modern dance movement, movement analysis and the developing theories of psychotherapy. Marian Chace is the American pioneer of Dance Movement Therapy. Other pioneers include Blanche Evan, Mary Whitehouse, Trudy Schoop and Rudolf Laban.

Benefits of DMT

Dance/movement therapists work with individuals of all ages. They work directly with individuals and in group settings. We all have experienced the healing effects of movement, whether it be dancing the "electric slide" or taking an aerobics class. The dance/movement therapist intentionally taps into the healing nature of movement by using the art of dance as an observation/assessment tool and then as a means of choreographing responses to issues and movements members bring to a group. The dance/movement therapist responds, echoing and answering each person's movement, thus promoting feelings of self-worth. By utilizing the physical elements of breathing, posture, gesture, tension release, space, force/weight and time, people gain numerous benefits: 

  • Increase self-awareness, self-esteem and personal autonomy
  • Experience links between thoughts, feelings and actions
  • Increase and practice adaptive coping behaviors
  • Express and manage overwhelming feelings or thoughts
  • Maximize resources for communication
  • Access internal resources through creative movement play
  • Experience the impacts of personal actions on others
  • Explore and experience internal and external reality
  • Initiate physical, emotional and/or cognitive shifts and change
  • Develop trusting relationships
  • Manage feelings that interrupt learning
  • Enhance skills in social interaction

Dance Movement Therapy does not aim to replace clinical methods to deal with trauma, nor are DMT sessions dance classes. 

Who Can Participate in GAATW & Kolkata-Sanved Co-Organized Workshop?

Although DMT workshops can be used by many people in many diverse situations and indeed Kolkata-Sanved has worked with many different groups of people GAATW-IS has organized these workshops primarily for its member organisations in Asia. Recognizing the need for psycho-social care and the absence of affordable non-clinical methods to offer the services, we approached Kolkata-Sanved as a resource group. Introductions to Dance Movement Therapy & Art Therapy were given to colleagues at the Asia Regional Consultation in 2009. Later in the year, a DMT workshop was organized for Shakti-Samuha, a member of GAATW that is founded and run by survivors of trafficking. In 2010 another workshop was organized for members in Odisha, India. At the International Members Congress and Conference in 2010, Kolkata-Sanved and Gabfai-Thailand worked together to present an opening performance. And in 2011 GAATW-IS, upon request from members, organised a DMT workshop for social workers and care givers from Indonesia. The feed back from members who have participated in these workshops have been very positive. What has been emphasized again and again by colleagues is what minimal resources are needed for DMT (some space, some time and your willingness) and how they have been able to use it in various settings.

Encouraged by the positive feedback GAATW-IS and Kolkata-Sanved are planning to organize an 8 day DMT workshop for women colleagues working to provide psycho-social assistance to trafficked women and abused women migrant workers in Asia.

So if you are a woman and work in a shelter, a drop-in centre, a counselling centre or a short-stay home, for trafficked women or abused women migrant workers, this workshop is for you.

Although colleagues from GAATW Member organizations will get preference this workshop is not a members-only event. Maximum number of trainees is 25.

Date and Venue

The workshop is a residential one and will be for 8 days. It will be held in Thailand in mid-February, 2014. Exact date and venue will be announced by end of December, 2013.

Next Steps/Timeline

  • Expression of Interest & Preliminary Queries: Until 12 December, 2013
  • Last Date to Receive Applications: 6 January, 2014
  • Selection of Participants: By 20 January, 2014
  • Logistics and Other Communication between Participants and Organisers: 25 January-10 Feb, 2014
  • DMT Workshop: Mid-February
  • Follow-Up Communication and Support Visit: March-August, 2014

For more details on the content and methodology of the workshop click here.

Click here for the Application Form.

A Few Words about GAATW and Kolkata-Sanved

The Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women (GAATW) is an Alliance of more than 100 non-governmental organisations from Africa, Asia, Europe, LAC and North America. The GAATW International Secretariat is based in Bangkok, Thailand and co-ordinates the activities of the Alliance, collects and disseminates information, advocates on behalf of the Alliance at regional and international levels.

GAATW promotes rights of women migrant workers and trafficked persons and believes that ensuring safe migration and fair work places should be at the core of all anti-trafficking efforts. GAATW advocate for living and working conditions that provide women with more alternatives in their countries of origin, and to develop and disseminate information to women about migration, working conditions and their rights.

GAATW currently has 63 member organisations in Asia most of whom work directly with trafficked women and/or abused women migrant workers.

For more information visit, Contact: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Kolkata Sanved has pioneered the use of Dance Movement Therapy (DMT) as an effective, alternative approach to recovery and rehabilitation for survivors of human trafficking and violence; HIV/AIDS patients and people living with psychosocial disabilities.  Breaking through barriers of traditional counseling and therapy, Kolkata Sanved uses movement and dance to enable individuals to reclaim their physical selves and their souls through a newfound sense of freedom, peace and confidence. The organization  was awarded the prestigious Beyond Sport Award for Best Health Project in 2009, Dian Von Furstenberg Award for transforming other women’s lives in 2011 and  Newsmaker 2012 for outstanding achievement and inspiration.

Kolkata Sanved believes that all individuals, from marginalized and mainstream populations, should live with dignity and self-respect.  This basic sense of empowerment and integrity can be achieved through dance movement therapy (DMT).

The uniqueness of Kolkata Sanved’s programme lies in the fact that it harnesses the power of dance in two distinct yet interrelated ways: dance as an art form and dance as expressive movement therapy focused on self empowerment. DMT can be very alienated from the arts, and seen merely as a means of therapy only. But essentially as with any creative art form or practitioner, it is nurturing and developing the body, mind, thinking and creativity of the individual; that is what art does.

For more information visit

Contact: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it


Filmed during the Transforming Steps project in Kolkata, India, this clip shows choreographer Mafalda Deville working with women from Kolkata Sanved ( The piece they're developing will be performed at Sadler's Wells, London in March 2012 to raise awareness of the global problem of human trafficking.



“I saw that some survivors have tremendous artistic skills and they really want to be artists. I started training survivors to do dance therapy.”  Sohini, Kolkata Sanved

“Why didn’t GAATW-IS organize this workshop for us before? This is extremely useful for us” - Participants at the Shakti Samuha Workshop

My week with everyone at Kampung Damai, the place where we all came together for DMT, was a magical time. Since then I have used DMT as self-care for many groups. Most recently with the LGBT groups in south east Asia. – Dewi Nova, Participant at the Indonesia Workshop


UN High Level Dialogue on International Migration and Development

Roundtable 2: Measures to ensure respect for and protection of the human rights of all migrants, with particular reference to women and children, as well as to prevent and combat the smuggling of migrants and trafficking in persons and to ensure orderly, regular and safe migration.

3 October 2013

Your excellencies, distinguished chairpersons,

The Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women welcomes the opportunity of this roundtable and we thank you for giving us time to make this intervention.

We are an alliance of over 100 independent NGOs. We locate human trafficking in the context of migration and migrant worker rights, recognising that the majority of trafficked persons are migrant workers in informal, unorganised and unprotected labour sectors.

The story of humankind is a story of migrations. Our ability and drive to migrate and adapt are amongst the factors that made us human. Now more than ever, it is central to how we live: United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has called the 21st Century the “age of mobility”.[1]

Human rights are central to safe migration. We call on States and this HLD to reaffirm the rights-based framework as the primary framework for intergovernmental discourse and action on migration, including by ensuring that all actors and forums in this area take human rights as the basis of their work.

And we urge States here to ensure that human rights remain at the heart of this roundtable. We are troubled that the HLD is framing what should be a panel on human rights in such a why as to focus instead on restrictions on and control of migration. For example, if we are discussing and identifying a list of rights-enhancing measures – why is combatting smuggling listed here?

By sheer necessity, many migrants pay a broker to reach their destination. There are circumstances where many migrants absolutely rely on smuggling to flee harmful situations such as armed conflicts. Driving smuggling further underground just increases the danger for migrants – including the risk of trafficking. Thus the framing of this roundtable regarding preventing and combatting smuggling is the wrong objective and will cause harm to migrants.

We remind States that the UN Smuggling Protocol creates the offence of smuggling but does not require States to criminalise people who are smuggled.[2] Many State responses to smuggling go far beyond the intention of the protocol, including by criminalising people who are smuggled – and other irregular migrants.

Often the laws and policies against irregular migration, including those against people smuggling, are implemented in the name of addressing trafficking in persons. But the Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women is increasingly concerned with immigration measures that criminalise migrants and also badly affect people who have been trafficked.[3] Many people in trafficking situations also classify, in government terms, as having been ‘smuggled’. Authorities do not always screen migrants to assess whether they might have been trafficked, but detain them as criminals, as ‘smuggled’ or as irregular migrants, deporting them before they have a chance to seek or receive the rights to which they are entitled. Conflating smuggling and trafficking leads to the over-policing of migrants and the under-policing and non-identification of people who have been trafficked. Furthermore, it prioritises a law enforcement rather than human rights approach. In doing so, the focus of the anti-trafficking efforts moves from the individual who has been trafficked and towards the security of the State. Similarly, there is a shifting of responsibility from the State to non-State actors.

The HLD and this roundtable offer an excellent opportunity to call on States to de-link smuggling and trafficking in order better to protect the rights of all migrants, and we urge States to ensure this clarity in the resolution from this session. We hope that an outcome of this roundtable will be a commitment to keep the focus on – as the first part of the title of the roundtable sets out – “Measures to ensure respect for and protection of the human rights of all migrants”.

Thank you.

[2] Protocol Against the Smuggling of Migrants by Land, Sea and Air, Supplementing the UN Convention Against Transnational Crime

[3] Smuggling And. Trafficking. Rights And Intersections. GAATW Working Paper Series 2011,

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