Thursday, July 24, 2008

The Underbelly Part 4: Glimmer of Hope

The title of this blog I fear is recklessly optimistic. I do not really see a glimmer of hope except when I hear or see some really good work being done by organizations and individuals. But I do think certain things must be done for the protection of victims of trafficking.
The things that need to be done that I mention here are not my original ideas but inspired by my mentor/guru who also happens to be an expert on Human Trafficking issues and the Executive Director/Founder President of a NGO which works for the victims of trafficking. The NGO APne Aap Women Worldwide ( has 5000 members. So what I write here is an abridged version of Ruchira's recent address to the General Assembly Thematic Debate June 3, 2008. These are some of her recommendations:

1. Actively investigating, prosecuting, and punishing those involved in the
trafficking of persons in countries of origin and destination, and
imposing penalties appropriate for the grave nature of the abuses they
have committed. Particular attention should be paid to evidence of
collaboration by government officials in the facilitation of trafficking

2. Exempting trafficking victims from prosecution for any immigration
violations or other offenses that have occurred as a result of their
being trafficked.

3. Not preventing the migration of women but ensuring they have enough information about how to protect their rights overseas or destination they migrate to.Over-regulatory policies for women migrant workers, however well-intended, trades one human rights problem for another by discriminating against women seeking to travel and limiting their freedom of movement. It also makes women who want to migrate even more dependent on the services of trafficking agents, because it is difficult for women to obtain travel documents by themselves.

4. Ensuring that trafficking victims have the opportunity to seek remedies
and redress for the human rights violations they have suffered,
including compensation for damages, unpaid wages, and restitution. This
requires guaranteeing victims' access to legal assistance,
interpretation services, and information regarding their rights, and
allowing all trafficked persons to remain in the country during the
duration of any proceedings related to legal claims they have filed.

5. Taking strong precautions to ensure the physical safety of trafficked
persons. This includes witness protection measures for those who
cooperate with law enforcement efforts and asylum opportunities for
those who fear retaliation in their countries of origin. Countries of
origin, transit, and destination must also cooperate to ensure the safe
repatriation of trafficked persons, working together with
non-governmental organizations to facilitate their return home.

6. Protecting women's and girls’ rights and addressing the inequality in status and
opportunity that makes women vulnerable to trafficking and other abuses. States should support policies and programs that promote equal access to education and employment for women and girls.

7. Not treat human trafficking for prostitution simply as a health management or AIDS prevention programme. These programmes end up creating a vested industry around the manufacture and distribution of condoms without dismantling the process of the trafficking or making a dent to the brothel systems which serve as a magnet for traffickers and buyers of trafficked people. Protection includes preventing prostitution, not simply mitigating its impact.

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