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Sex Trafficking Increasing - No Sign Of Stopping

Sex Trafficking Increasing - No Sign Of Stopping


By Kamala Sarup

The problems associated with sex trafficking have steadily worsened over the past decades and are likely to have been a significant source of financial support for criminal organizations because criminal networks have widened.

Every year thousands of women and children are trafficked, and the number shows no signs of subsiding. Authorities have failed in effort to prevent sex trafficking. They have failed because they tried to transplant urban-based programmes. There is rampant misuse of donations, and the NGOs are not serious about their programmes.

Even If the social organizations rescue the victims, they are kept in the rehabilitation centre for some time and then asked to leave. Unable to support themselves, these girls return to their old profession. So, sex trafficking continues unabated even though there are today close to a hundred organizations working for these vulnerable groups.

Even, women often from rural, poverty stricken areas are sold by their parents and sent to larger cities to be kept in slave-like conditions in huge and highly profitable brothels.

Low risk of prosecution, enormous profit potential, official corruption are the major factors that make haven for traffickers. The Authorities does nothing to prevent sex trafficking. On the basis of general observation and random study of the media, it is quite clear that women have been misreport, misrepresented and portrayed merely as objects of sexual pleasure and entertainment in the mainstream media. Misreporting and weak presentation of women by the media at present have become the toughest challenge for women who are lagging far behind and are victims of sex trafficking.

The traffickers have also changed their strategies in recent days. The traffickers now work garbed as restaurant employers, manpower agencies and owners of massage parlors. Traffickers, however, also use fraudulent documents to obtain genuine travel documents or use altered or counterfeit papers. Frequently the trafficked women are threatened with violence, beaten up and raped.

On other hand, poverty, lack of employment opportunities, , lack of consciousness, social discrimination between son and daughter, gender biased laws, lack of political commitment for seeking problem solution are the root causes for the continuation and increasement of sex trafficking.

The issue of sex trafficking in women was addressed about a century ago. Although The International Agreement for the Suppression of the White Slave Trade, signed in Paris May 18, 1904 was the foremost international document to deal with the issue of sex trafficking in women, After then, one by one, some other remarkable efforts was also adopted in international scenario.

The heads of state or government agreed to mention in its declaration "Expressing grave concern at the trafficking of women and children within and between countries, the Heads of State or Government pledged to coordinate their efforts and take effective measures to address this problem. They decided that existing legislation in Member States should be strengthened and strictly enforced. This should include simplification of repatriation procedures for victims of trafficking.

They also decided that the feasibility of establishing a Regional Convention on combating the Crime of Trafficking in Women and Children for Prostitution be examined by the relevant Technical Committee.

The movement expanded to many other countries, culminating in an international conference which met in Paris in 1902. Out of this conference came the International Agreement for the Suppression of white Slave Traffic which was signed by twelve countries in 1904. (Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden, Portugal, Russia, Spain, and Switzerland.)" (The Penn State Report- 1904, page-13) (Asmita maazine's report.) In 1933 a new international agreement was signed in Geneva, removing the condition of constraint, but only with regard to the international "traffick in women".

The Convention of 1910 was signed by 13 countries. This recognized a women under the age of twenty as minors and trafficking of such minors, even with their consent, was also punishable. Convention for the Suppression of the Sex Trafficking in Persons and of the Exploitation of the Others 1949 is the most specific, relevant and still effective convention to deal with the issue of trafficking in women.

In 1994, the UN General Assembly adopts a resolution on "traffic in women and girls" which condemns: The illicit and clandestine movement of persons across national and international borders, largely from developing countries and some countries with economics in transition, with the end goal of forcing women and girl children into sexually or economically oppressive and exploitative situations for the profit of recruiters, traffickers and crime syndicates, as well as other illegal activities related to trafficking, such as forced domestic labour, false marriages, clandestine employment and false adoption.

World Summit for Social Development was held in Copenhagen on 6-12 March 1995. It's Programme of Action also somewhat deals with the issue of sex trafficking of women and children. Fourth World Conference on Women was held in Beijing in September 1995. It was the largest world conference convened by United Nations so far. The World Conference, held in Stockholm Sweden on 27-31 August 1996, adopted many agenda for action against commercial sexual exploitation of children.

For the Protection of children from trafficking the agenda was set as " in the case of trafficking of children, develop and implement national laws, policies and programmes to protect children from being trafficked within or across borders and penalize the traffickers.

But on the other hand, sex trafficking is intensely secretive and kept underground, it's not easy to identify victims or bring traffickers to justice. The traffickers also exploit lack of political will by governments to tackle trafficking and its root causes. Women without social protection are the first to be constrained into sexual transactions by the lack of alternatives.

In addition to exploiting economic need, traffickers exploit the vulnerability of women who have fled their homes because of violence or have been displaced by armed conflict. Political instability and the violence have hindered world's efforts in fighting sex trafficking. The social and economic conditions here make a good atmosphere to work for these traffickers. The ongoing war and insurgency and internal migration have fueled sex trafficking in many countries.

In addition, women faced rampant violence and discrimination in conflict lives. Rape and sexual assault against women are all too common in conflict situations. While war-affected women more likely to be sexually abused. Clearly, reliable studies and data on sexual exploitation and trafficking in women and the link to displacement are urgently needed.

The government must establish rehabilitation centres to keep the rescued persons for a longer period. And advocacy, awareness programmes, livelihood training for the rescued ones, strong networking among the agencies and coordination and cooperation among them are a must to tackle the problem in the long run. The government along with the NGOs and civil societies should join hands for revising existing laws. There is an urgent need to work closely with the travel and tourism industry and draw-up a collective agenda to address the issues of sex tourism.

Sustainable development cannot be achieved until and unless women are empowered and are provided equal opportunities. Another important work which needs to be done is to conduct awareness raising programs for young vulnerable girls who are likely to be trafficked. It is at this juncture that returnees can be a big help.

The sex trade has produced a health epidemic. The incidence of HIV/AIDS has reached pandemic proportions because of sex trafficking. The urgent need for reducing sexual transmission of HIV/AIDS before it is too late. In this regard there is a pressing need to raise the awareness of the people about this serious disease including about sex trafficking.

Even HIV infection among these women is on the increase, and governments still lacks programmes targeted at HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment of those women.

(A Nepali Journalist Kamala Sarup is an editor of http://peacejournalism.com/ )

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