Thursday, July 24, 2008

The Underbelly Part 5: Best Practices

Ruchira’s Speech Continued……….

The first need of the victims of trafficking is visibility. They want the state to recognize them as citizens of the state, their exploitation a crime and provide them protection.

Their second demand is that of relief.They want immediate relief from violence,severe trauma, and exploitation. They want both the process of human trafficking to be tackled as well as its outcomes, which include prostitution, domestic servitude, early marriage, child labour, bonded labour, organ trade, cheap labour, and pornography.

A range of comprehensive interventions from prevention, to protection to prosecution is an effective response to countering trafficking. Trafficking is not always about movement of forced or deceived people across borders. It is also about those whose vulnerability is abused to trap them into situations of exploitation in brothels, sweatshops, and farms, sometimes in the very places where they were born. They want protection programmes in the very communities that they are born in.

Those targeted for commercial sexual exploitation and cheap labour share key characteristics: poverty, youth, minority status in the country of exploitation, histories of abuse, and little family support. They want comprehensive protection programmes that address their vulnerabilities. They want legal protection tied in with viable economic options and the notion of rehabilitation to extend to community empowerment as well as individual empowerment. They want protection packages that will expand their livelihood options.

Trafficked women may be freed from their employers in police raids, but they are given no access to services or redress and instead face further mistreatment at the hands of authorities. Even when confronted with clear evidence of trafficking, officials focus on violations of their immigration regulations and anti-prostitution laws, rather than on violations of the trafficking victims' human rights. Thus those women who are trafficked across borders are targeted as undocumented migrants and/or prostitutes, and the traffickers either escape entirely, or else face minor penalties. By making the victims of trafficking the target of law enforcement efforts, governments only exacerbate victims' vulnerability to abuse and deter them from turning to law enforcement officials for assistance. By allowing traffickers to engage in slavery-like practices without penalty, governments allow the abuses to continue with impunity.

That is why the third demand of victims and survivors of trafficking is accountability. They want those responsible for trafficking to be punished and stopped. They want interventions to focus on the responsibility of those who buy trafficked people such as buyers of prostituted sex and those “entrepreneurs” (traffickers, procurers, pimps, brothel owners, and managers, owners of plantations and factories and money lenders) who make a profit off trading in women and girls, boys and men.

So far a large number of trafficking interventions have focused on the victim through rescue and post rescue care. While this has provided much-needed relief to victims and survivors, it has not made a dent in the trafficking industry. According to a study by the National Human Rights Commission of India, most traffickers state that they identify the demand areas before indulging in trafficking to ensure ‘prompt delivery.

Demand for trafficked people –from end-users to those who make a profit of the trade has become the most immediate cause for the expansion of the trafficking industry. Providing services and instituting preventive mechanisms among those at risk to trafficking has provided protection to pockets of vulnerable people but not detracted the traffickers. According to the same National Human Rights Commission Study 82.5% of traffickers stated that they supply women/ children to brothels on demand- from underage girls to fair-skinned women. When increased vigilance and new laws prevented traffickers from sourcing women and children from Nepal to Mumbai and Kolkata, they simply shifted their area of operations to Bihar, West Bengal, the hill states of the northeast and Jharkhand in India because a demand for trafficked women and children continued to exist.

An increase in convictions against traffickers and buyers will serve to make this trade untenable. Countries have to strengthen their law-enforcement response to trafficking and work across borders to tackle the organized nature of the crime bringing traffickers to book, confiscating the illegal assets created out of trafficking, making the traffickers compensate for the damages and penalizing them. All act as a deterrent to traffickers and buyers and restores a sense of justice to the survivor. Very often traffickers commit the crime in one country and jump across the border and have a bank account or residential status in another country.
Countries and UN agencies can work together to investigate and prosecute these traffickers across countries. The UN protocol has already laid out guidelines for this. While there is increased cooperation for the repatriation of victims of trafficking, we need more cooperating and collaboration between law-enforcement agencies to investigate, arrest and prosecute traffickers ad those who buy trafficked people.If the numbers of convictions go up, the costs of operations of human trafficking will become untenable and the business models of traffickers will be disrupted. This will be the best way of countering trafficking.

Addressing the demand for human trafficking, use of the law and its full implementation can only be done by states individually and in collaboration bi-laterally and multilaterally. It is urgent that the UN and its members take the leadership on this. Article 9, paragraph 5, of the UN protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children states that: “State Parties shall adopt or strengthen legislative or other measures, such as educational, social or cultural measues to including through bilateral or multi-lateral cooperation, to discourage the demand that fosters all forms of exploitation of persons, especially women and children that leads to trafficking.” We urge governments to enact domestic legislation that incorporates the standards outlined above.

An example is the Swedish government legislation passed and implemented in 1999 that stepped up measures against prostitution not only by directing strong penalties against pimps, brothel owners, and other sex industry entrepreneurs but by also directing criminal sanctions against customers. (The law also eliminated penalties against prostitutes, such as the penalty for soliciting.) After the passage of the new law, Sweden spearheaded public education campaign warning sex industry customers that patronizing prostitutes was criminal behavior. The result was unexpected. Sex trafficking to Sweden has declined. The danger of prosecution coupled with a diminished demand made Sweden an unpromising market for global sex traffickers. Based on the success of the Swedish model, country after country is following Sweden’s example-Norway, Korea, Lithuania, and New York State.
India is a signatory to the protocol and is in the process of amending its anti-trafficking law to penalize buyers of trafficked people and severely punish traffickers.


Piper .. said...

sorry if I sound totally sanctimonious. But the proposals seem overly ambitious. Is it really possible to implement any of them realistically? Ofcourse, I`m totally ignorant about the whole issue and am just making smart-ass comments,I know.. But still - is it really possible in the present day scenario back in India?

Chrysalis said...

First of all I am really impressed that you read the Part 4 and 5. I thought they were technical and could seem boring.
Coming to your question...will the proposals work I cant say they will or won't 100% ..only time will tell secondly I definitely feel there has been no change at all except for a few rescues here and there occassionally. The present laws only punish the actual victims of trafficking. The buyers and the suppliers/pimps etc go scot free. Hence there is no noticeable change in the demand and supply chain.
If you have some ideas I would love to hear them. And please your comments are great and keep it going.

Chrysalis said...

In India to implement the new laws is definitely challenging thanks to the police ,politicians, and supplier nexus. But since there was no law exisitng to hit at the very trafficking trade and the people behind it even little could be done by those who are honest and want to make a difference. By the new and much needed policy change there will be some good work happening in the right direction.I hope. I pray.