Sex worker rights organisations are creatively responding to violence, exploitation and other abuses within the sex industry, including instances of human trafficking, according to a new report published by the Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women, Sex Workers Organising for Change: Self-representation, community mobilisation and working conditions.
The report is based on research conducted with sex worker organisations in seven countries: Canada, Mexico, Spain, South Africa, India, Thailand and New Zealand. It highlights cases where sex workers, or sex worker organisations, learnt of situations where a woman was experiencing violence, working under unacceptable conditions, or was brought to the industry through force or deception, for the purpose of exploitation. In these instances, sex workers resolved the issue as a collective, by providing advice and referral to other organisations, negotiating with the brothel owner/madam, chasing the pimp out of their area, or gathering money to help the woman return home.
Beyond support for individual cases, this report also documents how sex worker rights organisations mobilise sex workers and their allies to resist stigma, discrimination and oppression, and to collectively voice their concerns, demand their rights, and participate in public and political life. This type of collective action builds confidence in sex workers and helps them better protect themselves and their peers against violence and abuse.
Despite this important work, sex worker rights organisations are largely unrecognised and even vilified by the anti-trafficking community. In the past decade, the role of workers’ associations and trade unions in preventing and addressing human trafficking in different sectors of the economy has increasingly been recognised by anti-trafficking stakeholders. It is now widely acknowledged that organised workers are empowered workers. However, sex worker rights organisations are generally viewed with suspicion by anti-trafficking activists and, as a result, excluded from anti-trafficking responses. In some of the studied countries, we found that the contribution of sex worker organisations for anti-trafficking work was recognised by at least certain individuals in the local police or anti-trafficking unit. However, we also documented several cases where sex worker organisations had tried to join their national anti-trafficking task force or NGO network, but were either not allowed to or had to withdraw due to hostility.
Ultimately, the report demonstrates that sex worker rights organisations are human rights organisations whose primary mandate is to ensure that the human, economic, social, political, and labour rights of the people they work with are recognised and respected by state and non-state actors. We hope that it will lead to a new approach to addressing human trafficking in the sex industry—one that is based not on criminalisation and indiscriminate “raids and rescues” but on meaningful engagement with those in the industry themselves.
For the second year running, Fundación La Paz, Corporación Espacios de Mujer and ECPAT, with the support of the International Secretariat of GAATW has conducted an analysis of anti-trafficking policies and services in Bolivia, Colombia and Guatemala respectively to assess the gap between what the legislation states and the services actually provided.
It can be said that legislation against human trafficking is still not effectively implemented in any of the three countries. The institutions are not fulfilling all of their responsibilities nor are they facilitating the restitution of the violated rights of trafficked persons.
Not only is there an inadequate budget allocation specifically to enforce the law, but most institutions responsible for prevention, care or prosecution are unaware of the budget available for their accomplishment.
There is also no uniformity in the collection of information, which results in a high degree of ambiguity and, therefore, a lack of knowledge about the crime and associated violations. A proper recording of trafficking cases would make it possible to classify and quantify information for the purpose of designing more suitable public policies.
One need identified in all three countries is ongoing training for specialists involved in the processes of identification, care, protection and prosecution.
Finally, it is worrisome that states generally continue to fail to link prevention strategies with public policies that deal with structural aspects, such as poverty or the guarantee of basic rights.
Por segundo año consecutivo Fundación La Paz, Corporación Espacios de Mujer y ECPAT, con el apoyo del secretariado internacional de GAATW, han llevado a cabo un análisis de la implementación de las políticas anti-trata en Bolivia, Colombia y Guatemala respectivamente.
Se puede afirmar que la legislación contra la trata de personas sigue sin aplicarse efectivamente en ninguno de los tres países. Las instituciones no cumplen con el total de sus responsabilidades ni se está propiciando la restitución de los derechos vulnerados a las personas objeto de trata.
No solo falta la debida asignación presupuestaria específica para poder ejecutar la Ley, sino que además la mayor parte de las instituciones responsables de acciones de prevención, atención o persecución desconocen el presupuesto disponible para la ejecución de dichas acciones.
Destaca también la falta de uniformidad en la recogida de información lo que conlleva una gran ambigüedad en la información disponible y por tanto un desconocimiento del delito. Un registro adecuado de los casos de trata permitiría tipificar y cuantificar la información en aras de diseñar políticas públicas más adecuadas.
Una necesidad identificada en los tres países es la formación permanente a las personas involucradas en cualquier nivel de los procesos de identificación, atención, protección y persecución del delito sobre el delito de trata de personas y en materia de derechos humanos.
Por último, es preocupante que en general los Estados sigan sin relacionar las estrategias de prevención con políticas públicas que afronten aspectos estructurales como la pobreza o la falta de cobertura de derechos básicos.
In 2015-2016, the GAATW International Secretariat undertook a project called the ‘South Asia – Middle East Access to Justice Project’ (SAME A2J Project) as part of a larger initiative, ‘Addressing Labour Trafficking of South Asian Migrant Workers in the Middle East.’ The objective of the SAME A2J Project was to identify cases in which migrant workers who had travelled to the Middle East as temporary labour migrants were trafficked, and to identify the barriers those workers faced accessing justice. The rationale for the project was a perception within GAATW that migrant workers from South Asia who were coerced, defrauded or deceived into situations of severe exploitation were rarely treated as trafficked persons and rarely received an adequate remedy.
A total of thirteen partner organisations from seven countries (Bangladesh, India, Jordan, Lebanon, Kuwait, Nepal and Sri Lanka) participated in the project. This report aims to capture one area of learning that emerged from the project: the barriers that project partners experience or observe when supporting migrant workers to access justice. Although specific barriers to justice may differ between countries, and even regions within countries, project partners identified many in common.
The report concludes with reflections on the lessons learnt by the GAATW about the obstacles to justice for migrant workers, but also for organisations seeking to assist migrant workers and the effort required to overcome those barriers. It is not intended to dissuade civil society organisations or legal service providers from working to improve access to justice for migrant workers, but rather to highlight the complexity of human trafficking, and the many challenges along the road to justice.
Cambodian migrant workers in Thailand usually do not try to pursue justice after rights violations due to a lack of trust in the police and courts, research conducted by GAATW and partners found.
Lack of information about labour and migration laws and regulations was one factor among those interviewed that made them vulnerable to exploitation and human trafficking. When violations occurred they did not seek justice, either because they are undocumented and believe that this makes them ineligible for justice mechanisms or because they don’t believe they will receive a fair outcome against a Thai employer. Perceptions of what is just or fair among the migrant workers were often based on what had been agreed with a broker or employer, rather than what meets a minimum legal standard, the research found.
Interviewees spoke of lack of examples of success that might inspire their pursuit of justice - no one they knew had successfully accessed a fair resolution though the legal system. A number of workers spoke of having no other options than undertaking undocumented migration to Thailand again, despite knowing the risk of being overworked, cheated or facing physical abuse.
These are some of the main findings of our new research ‘Access Unknown: Access to justice from the perspectives of Cambodian migrant workers in Thailand’, which interviewed 59 migrant workers, men and women working in seven different industries, in Thailand and after returning home. This research aimed to examine why there is still such a significant disconnect between the currently available options in the legal system and Cambodian workers’ unwillingness or inability to practically access them.
The Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women (GAATW) carried out this joint evaluation report in three countries in Latin America and the Caribbean – Bolivia, Guatemala and Colombia - with the aim of encouraging governments to improve the implementation of anti-trafficking laws and policies to better respond to the needs of trafficked persons. The report highlights (1) the existing gaps between what the anti-trafficking legislation states and the actual services provided by government agencies, and (2) concrete recommendations for the three governments to take forward.
This project was developed by Fundación La Paz in Bolivia, Corporación Espacios de Mujer in Colombia and ECPAT in Guatemala with the support from the GAATW International Secretariat and the Peruvian NGO Capital Humano y Social (CHS) Alternativo.
Balance de la implementación de las políticas anti-trata en Bolivia, Colombia y Guatemala
La Alianza Global contra la Trata de Mujeres (GAATW) ha realizado este balance de las medidas anti trata en Bolivia, Guatemala y Colombia con el objetivo de estimular a los gobiernos a mejorar la implementación y ejecución de las mismas para responder mejor a las necesidades de las personas objeto de trata. El balance señala las diferencias existentes entre lo que dice la legislación anti-trata y los servicios reales que las entidades gubernamentales proporcionan y aporta recomendaciones concretas para que el gobierno pueda reducirlas.
El proyecto ha sido desarrollado por Fundación La Paz en Bolivia, Corporación Espacios de mujer en Colombia y ECPAT en Guatemala con el apoyo del secretariado internacional de GAATW y de la ONG peruana Capital humano y social – Alternativo.
The Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women (GAATW) believes that the impact of anti-trafficking initiatives is best understood from the perspective of trafficked persons themselves. 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.
These briefing papers highlight the main findings of what people who have been trafficked say about 3 important themes:
Unmet Needs: Emotional support and care after trafficking [English, Spanish]
Rebuilding Lives: The need for sustainable livelihoods after trafficking [English, Spanish]
Seeking Feedback from Trafficked Persons on Assistance Services: Principles and ethics [English, Spanish]
The project of the Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women (GAATW), "Towards greater accountability - Participatory Monitoring of Anti-Trafficking Initiatives”, aims to reaffirm the right of surviving victims to express their voices, by monitoring initiatives that are intended to benefit them.
The research study aimed to identify victims’ perceptions and views of the support services they received, which would be reflected in the respective country reports. The participant organisations in the research had provided some form of assistance to surviving victims that had participated in the study. Seven of the organisations that participated in the research are from Latin America and the Caribbean: The Civil Human Rights Association of United Women Migrants and Refugees in Argentina (AMUMRA) of Argentina; Renacer, Hope Foundation and Space Corporation Foundation Women of Colombia; Ecuador Hope Foundation; Street Brigade Support Women "Elisa Martinez", AC of Mexico and Alternative Forms of Human and Social Capital (CHS Alternativo) of Peru.
This toolkit provides guidance to NGOs engaging in the CEDAW review process. It hopes to enable NGO reporting to provide more thorough information on the situation of trafficking in women and the exploitation of women migrant workers and to link these areas of concern with migration, labour and discrimination issues. It also provides lobbying tools for NGOs to facilitate effective advocacy to the Committee on these issues, in order that the Committee is better equipped to address trafficking and the exploitation of migrant women workers with states under review. Download the toolkit
The need to reduce ‘demand’ for trafficked persons is widely mentioned in the anti-trafficking sector but few have looked at ‘demand’ critically or substantively. Some ‘demand’-based approaches have been heavily critiqued, such as the idea that eliminating sex workers’ clients (or the ‘demand’ for commercial sex) through incarceration or stigmatisation will reduce trafficking. In this publication, we take a look at the links between trafficking and: (1) the demand for commercial sex, and (2) the demand for exploitative labour practices. We assess current approaches used to reduce each of these types of ‘demand’ and consider other long-term approaches that can reduce the demand for exploitative practices while respecting workers’ and migrants’ rights (e.g. enforcing labour standards, reducing discrimination against migrants, supporting sex workers’ rights).
There has been a lot published on the supposed link between sporting events and trafficking, but how much of it is true and how much of it is useful? In this guide, we review the literature from past sporting events, and find that they do not cause increases in trafficking for prostitution. The guide takes a closer look at why this unsubstantiated idea still captures the imagination of politicians and some media, and offers stakeholders a more constructive approach to address trafficking beyond short-term events. We hope this guide will help stakeholders quickly correct misinformation about trafficking, develop evidence-based anti-trafficking responses, and learn what worked and what didn't in past host cities.
This research explores and assesses the evaluation of anti-trafficking policies and programmes worldwide, including three international, two regional and nine national anti-trafficking initiatives. It highlights common themes and emerging patterns between a range of approaches to evaluation in this sector and finds overwhelmingly that anti-trafficking initiatives are not being sufficiently evaluated, impeding the effectiveness of anti-trafficking responses and limiting progress in combating trafficking. Urgent action in the form of adequate evaluation systems is imperative to ensure anti-trafficking programmes are effectively targeted and delivered.
Feminist Participatory Action Research (FPAR) Series
This CD contains the results of the Feminist Participatory Action Research organised by GAATW. It demonstrates the ways in which women are taking action and steering change in their communities. It shares their stories of resilience, hope and strength; it reveals the complexities of their lives; and raises their voices so we can hear them loudly and clearly, and take action.
Agency has always been at the core to GAATW’s message, and this topic was further looked at in a 2nd Roundtable (February and March, 2009). This Roundtable focused on ‘macro’ issues such as trade, security regimes, and global economics, and their impact on migrant and trafficked women and their space for agency and decision-making.
This specific research report seeks to contribute to this on-going analysis by GAATW by looking at these issues in the context of a programme of female temporary migration within the agriculture sector in Huelva, Spain; we aim to connect macroeconomics to a micro example of reality lived on the ground.
The report features self-organised members in the Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women (GAATW). Discussions highlighted the importance of empowering internal relationships within the organisation and respectful partnerships with external stakeholders, organising processes that accomodated women's individual circumstances and needs, and the need to have opportunities where women could learn from shared experiences with other women.
This report reviews the impact of anti-trafficking measures on human rights in 8 countries: Australia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, India, Nigeria, Thailand, the United Kingdom and the United States. Each country chapter provides an overview of human trafficking, the current legal framework concerning all aspects of anti-trafficking efforts, specific laws and policies and their implications on key groups of people, and a critical analysis of the human rights impact of these measures specifically on women. This anthology emphasises the critical need for a re-assessment of anti-trafficking initiatives around the globe in order that human rights do not get written off as ‘collateral damage’ in combating human trafficking.
This is a collection of stories of Women’s Collectives, but these are not the mainstream groups about whom we read everyday. The women featured in this booklet do not have much formal education, nor do they have the advantage of wealth. Stigmatised in their communities as ‘prostitutes’ or ‘trafficked women’ they have endured humiliation and yet come together to claim their space in society.
Read about Langson women’s Group; Vietnam, Shakti Samuha; Nepal, Dok Orr Women’s Group, Thailand, Cambodia Prostitutes Union, Phnompenh, EMPOWER Foundation, Thailand, Durjoy & Ulka; Bangladesh and many more…
This is the result of a collaborative effort involving a number of activists from South East Asia. The manual aims to promote direct assistance for trafficked women and children within a human rights framework.
A broad-based manual, containing general strategies that can be easily adapted to local contexts, this has proved to be an extremely valuable resource for NGOs worldwide. This manual clarifies the concepts of human rights and trafficking in persons and provides concrete rights-based strategies that can be carried out at all levels, from local to international, in the context of trafficking.
The HRS is a collation of international human rights instruments which can be used to protect the rights of trafficked persons. A joint effort of member organisations and colleagues from like minded groups this has been used as a Lobby Document nationally and internationally.
This manual was developed as part GAATW’s campaign to promote safe migration and fair working conditions. It provides practical information on arranging travel documents, and work permits, workers rights and wages, as well as suggestions on how to protect one’s rights.
A report presenting the results of an international investigation on trafficking in women, forced labour & slavery-like practices in the contexts of marriage, domestic labour and prostitution, this document marks a major turning point in thinking and activism around trafficking. Initiated in 1995 in response to the invitation of the then UN Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women, (SRVAW) the investigation was carried out by the Dutch Foundation Against Trafficking in Women (STV) and GAATW. A condensed version of the report was submitted to the SRVAW and the complete report was published in 1997.
A reprint with some revision, mainly in the layout and chapter division has been brought out in 1999.
GAATW’s first effort to support groups working at the grassroots level this handbook contains information gathered from governmental organisations, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), and legal and health experts. Written in a clear and simple style, this manual created a forum for discussion on the everyday aspect of anti-trafficking work among practitioners and promoted understanding of the human rights framework. (Out of Print)