Women's Health and Education Center (WHEC)

Violence Against Women

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United Nations: Commission on the Status of Women

Economic and Social Council

One of its missions is, to achieve for women: gender equality, development and peace for the 20th century. Trafficking of women and girls for the purpose of prostitution is one of the fastest growing areas of international criminal activity. Over 1,200,000 persons (the number may as high as 4 million), especially women and children, are trafficked each year across international borders.

Positive Initiatives:

  • Many governments have passed Acts for the prevention and suppression of the trafficking in women and children. In Thailand, for example, girls are now protected under the purview of the Prevention And Suppression Of Trafficking In Women And Children Act, 1996
  • Several NGOs have set up programs to rescue, repatriate and reintegrate the victims of trafficking. Examples of these include Maiti Nepal in Nepal, Sanlaap in Calcutta, the Sisters of the Good Shepherd in Thailand, etc.

To be successful, strategies to combat trafficking of women must:

  1. Address gender inequality as the root cause of violence and trafficking.
  2. Use new approaches which rely on more comprehensive and inclusive networks and partnerships.

Suggestions for achievable community level programs that will prevent trafficking:

We wish to offer suggestions on how projects involving local communities could become an effective component of the fight against trafficking.

In trafficking- prone areas, community level prevention programs could be organized for the purpose of detecting and preventing the early disappearance of girls. The following components are suggested:

  • A vigilance committee functioning at the village level to target trafficking agents. Such committees would be comprised of the village/community headperson/mayor, local women and men volunteers, the local police, local religious leader, etc.
  • A local registry system where the names of missing girls are reported along with all pertinent details.
  • An investigation team whose responsibility would be to screen "job recruiters" or other newcomers entering the village to detect if they might be recruiters for prostitution. The job recruiters would be asked to provide the girl's future employer's name, address and telephone number. He would be asked to give references on the potential employer, which the investigation team would, counter check.
  • The vigilance committee would follow-up on the girl's living and working conditions (carpet factory, domestic work, etc.)
  • Girls groups could be formed, whenever possible, for the purpose of building their confidence and self-esteem and to give them a better understanding of the various forms of gender violence.
  • Poverty eradication measures should be organized at the village level: literacy program, training for small - scale enterprises, etc.
  • Media strategies should be developed to denounce culturally upheld beliefs and practices of violence against women, including domestic violence, female genital mutilation, female foetuside and systems of prostitution.
  • Community education and advocacy programs should be designed for and directed to both genders in the community. These could cover issues such as gender discrimination, violence against women, the dangers of HIV/AIDS, the value of women and their resourcefulness for the community.
  • Special recognition awards could be given by regional authorities to model villages/communities which have an active and effective anti-violence project.

Early Systemic Alerts:

Rescued girls have stated how they would have appreciated an early intervention by the police and NGOs at the place where they were sold or forced into prostitution. Existing networks between the pimps, brothel owners and the police need to be dealt with for successful rescue operations. There is an urgent need to establish/strengthen mechanisms for cooperation between the source, transit and destination countries or states where women are trafficked. To be more specific, this should include:

  • Effective vigilance at border crossings
  • Strict checking of identification papers
  • Greater cooperation between the supplying and host countries for the purpose of prevention and rescue.
  • Anti-corruption initiatives
  • Prosecution of sex tourism and of "Mail Bride" industries.

Editor's Note

The UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, through its supplementary protocol, deals especially with preventing, suppressing and punishing trafficking in persons, especially women and children. Unfortunately, some states seem to lack the political will to implement this protocol effectively. Commenting on the Resolution Against Trafficking adopted by the General Assembly in December 2000, the Secretary General of the UN recommends that further actions be taken for the adoption and enforcement of legal strategies.

For more information on the Work of the United Nations, Please visit their web site:

Published: 14 October 2009

Women's Health & Education Center
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