Sex trafficking

NY Must Protect Sexually Exploited Girls (Daily Beast)

5/16/2014 -- Daily Beast -- "NY Must Protect Sexually Exploited Girls" Trafficking Program Officer Kristen Berg on the TVPJA:

United States: Pass the Trafficking Victims Protection & Justice Act in New York

Update: 
UPDATE
Date: 
2014 May 12
Update: 

8 JULY 2014 UPDATE – During the spring legislative session, Equality Now, trafficking survivors and our partners twice traveled to Albany to meet with members of the New York State legislature and urge them to pass the TVPJA, as well as to raise awareness of human trafficking and the need to reform New York laws. While the bill unanimously passed in the Senate, unfortunately, it did not pass the Assembly once again due to larger political issues. However, we remain optimistic that the bill will ultimately be passed and continue to work with our partners and trafficking survivors to advocate for the reform of New York’s anti-trafficking laws. Thank you to all of our supporters who joined us in calling on New York to better protect victims of trafficking and hold sex buyers, pimps and traffickers accountable!

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What You Can Do: 

TAKE ACTION NOW! << Click on this link to send all letters below online.

  • Write the government officials below and urge them to pass the TVPJA during the June 2014 legislative session;
  • If you live in New York, contact your district’s legislators and ask them to pass the TVPJA. Click on these links to find your Assemblyperson or Senator;
  • Visit Equality Now’s campaign, Survivor Stories, which showcases survivor voices and leadership in the anti-trafficking movement.

Letters should go to:

The Honorable Andrew M. Cuomo
Governor of New York State
NYS State Capitol Building
Albany, NY 12224
Email: gov.cuomo@chamber.state.ny.us
Social media links:
Twitter: @NYGovCuomo
Facebook: www.facebook.com/GovernorAndrewCuomo

Speaker Sheldon Silver
Speaker of the New York State Assembly
Legislative Office Building, Room 932
Albany, NY 12248
Email: speaker@assembly.state.ny.us

Senator Jeffrey D. Klein
Temporary President and Majority Coalition Leader of the New York State Senate
Legislative Office Building, Room 913
Albany, NY 12247
Email: jdklein@senate.state.ny.us
Social media links:
Twitter: @JeffKleinNY
Facebook: www.facebook.com/jeffrey.d.klein

Letters: 

Dear Governor Cuomo, Speaker Silver, Senator Klein:

I am writing to request your support of the New York Trafficking Victims Protection and Justice Act (TVPJA, Paulin/Lanza A.2240D/ S.5879B) and urge its passage during the June 2014 legislative session. According to the New York Office of Child and Family Services, thousands of children are trafficked for commercial sexual exploitation in New York annually, yet the sellers and buyers of these children are rarely held accountable.

New York must do better to protect girls and women from trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation. Please pass the TVPJA so that penalties for buying sex from a minor are aligned with those for statutory rape; that persons accused of engaging in sex with minors cannot use the defense they did not know the age of the child; that penalties against those who pimp minors will be strengthened; that prosecutors will be able to wiretap pimps; that trafficking survivors arrested for prostitution can use the affirmative defense that they were trafficked; and that the stigmatizing word “prostitute” is removed from the Penal Law. In doing so, New York’s law enforcement will have better tools to target and arrest the pimps and buyers who are supporting this multi-billion dollar trafficking industry – instead of focusing their resources on arresting victims.

New York has consistently been at the forefront of anti-trafficking efforts. I encourage you to keep up this incredible effort by taking all legislative and policy measures to pass the TVPJA before the legislative session ends on June 19. Thank you for your attention.

Sincerely,

Girls for sale: “A Day in the Life" (Thomson Reuters)

3/26/2014 -- Thomson Reuters -- "Girls for sale: 'A Day in the Life'"

A diverse, fresh-faced group, the 20 American girls standing still and expressionless on stage create a striking opening tableau. Between the ages of 13 and 17, they could be anyone’s daughter or sister or cousin - or any sex trafficker’s prey. [read more...]

Canada: Pass legislation to prevent the sexual exploitation of women & girls

Update: 
Not an update
Date: 
2014 Apr 14

23 JUNE 2014 UPDATE: On 16 June, the government’s bill reforming Canada’s prostitution laws passed its second reading in the House of Commons and was referred to the Justice Committee (note: bills must undergo three readings and a committee stage in the House of Commons and also pass in the Senate, and then receive Royal Assent before becoming law). The Committee will meet the week of 7 July to hear testimony on the bill. This will be a good opportunity for the bill to be amended to truly protect the human rights of people in prostitution.

What You Can Do: 

TAKE ACTION NOW! << Click on this link to send all letters below online.

Please join Equality Now and our Canadian partners EVE, Sextrade101, and the London Abused Women’s Centre in calling on the government to enact legislation in line with the Nordic Model that will protect the human rights of people in prostitution while preventing future exploitation in the commercial sex industry.

Letters should go to:

The Honourable Peter MacKay
Minister of Justice
509s Center Block
House of Commons
Ottawa, Ontario
Canada K1A 0A6
peter.mackay@parl.gc.ca
Telephone: 613-992-6022
Fax: 613-992-2337
Twitter: @MinPeterMacKay

Mike Wallace
MP & Committee Chair
Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights
House of Commons
Ottawa, Ontario
Canada K1A 0A6
Mike.wallace@parl.gc.ca
Telephone: 613-995-0881
Fax: 613-995-1091
Twitter: @MikeWallaceMP

Françoise Boivin
MP & Committee Vice-Chair
Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights
House of Commons
Ottawa, Ontario
Canada K1A 0A6
Francoise.Boivin@parl.gc.ca
Telephone: 613-992-4351
Fax: 613-992-1037
Twitter: @FBoivinNPD

Sean Casey
MP & Committee Vice-Chair
Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights
House of Commons
Ottawa, Ontario
Canada K1A 0A6
Sean.Casey@parl.gc.ca
Telephone: 613-996-4714
Fax: 613-995-7685
Twitter: @SeanCaseyMP

Letters: 

Dear Minister/Member of Parliament,

I urge you to listen to the survivors of sex trafficking and sexual exploitation advocating for the Canadian government to pass legislation that criminalizes those who pay for sex acts while decriminalizing and ensuring support for women in prostitution – known as the “Swedish” or “Nordic” model. After the Supreme Court of Canada struck down the prostitution laws as unconstitutional, your government has a vital opportunity to better protect people in prostitution, prevent sex trafficking and promote gender equality by joining other progressive countries that have adopted the Nordic model.

The exploitation of women and girls in the commercial sex industry is a human rights violation and a cause and consequence of gender, racial, ethnic, economic and other inequalities. While precise numbers are difficult to obtain, it is clear that the vast majority of those in prostitution are women, and that many enter as children. In addition, women and girls from marginalized communities are overrepresented. As many women and girls are not in prostitution through choice, but rather lack of choice, people in prostitution must not be criminalized, but instead should have access to comprehensive assistance and services.

The Nordic model has been adopted in Sweden, Norway, and Iceland, and is currently being considered by the parliaments of France, Ireland and Northern Ireland. I join Equality Now, EVE (formerly Exploited Voices now Educating), Sextrade 101 and the London Abused Women’s Centre in calling on the Canadian government to live up to its obligations under international law, including the UN Trafficking Protocol and UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, to address the demand for prostitution that fuels sex trafficking and to protect people in prostitution by passing legislation that:

1.    Decriminalizes people in prostitution (i.e. people selling sex),
2.    Criminalizes those who pay for sex acts, brothel-keepers, pimps and procurers, and
3.    Mandates robust funding for services for people in prostitution, including assistance for those who wish to exit prostitution.

Thank you for your attention.

Yours sincerely,

When Girls Are Part of the Solution Everyone Benefits (Huffington Post)

3/7/2014 -- Huffington Post -- "When Girls Are Part of the Solution Everyone Benefits" New York office Director Lauren Hersh on Project Impact, an arts-based leadership workshop for teen trafficking survivors.

Equality Now and Partners challenge UN push to legalise prostitution (Reuters)

9/22/2013 -- Reuters -- "Rights groups challenge UN push to legalise prostitution"

“What we’re asking is that the reports (advocating legalisation) be appealed or amended,” said Lauren Hersh, a former domestic violence prosecutor and head of Equality Now’s anti-trafficking programme.

United Nations: Listen to survivors – don’t jeopardize efforts to prevent sex trafficking

Update: 
Not an update
Date: 
2013 Sep 20

2 DECEMBER 2013 UPDATE: On 4 November 2013, UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé sent an email to individuals and organizations who had signed our petition calling on the United Nations to listen to survivors and to clarify its position regarding pimping, brothel-keeping and buying sex. In this email, Mr. Sidibé stated that “UNAIDS is not advocating for the decriminalization of pimping or brothel ownership.” This is an important clarification, as recent UNAIDS-backed reports (see below) had called for the decriminalization of pimping and brothel-keeping.

What You Can Do: 

TAKE ACTION NOW! << Click on this link to send all letters below online.

Please join survivors such as Ayesha, Alma, Michelle and Sam, Equality Now, and a coalition of 97 survivor-led and anti-trafficking organizations worldwide who have been disputing the UN reports since November 2012, in urging UNAIDS, UNFPA and UNDP to:

  • Clarify their position on the decriminalization of pimps, brothel owners and buyers;
  • In all future development of policies and programs on issues that affect people in the commercial sex industry, consult, involve and reflect the views of survivors of commercial sexual exploitation as well as a more diverse range of groups working on the issue of prostitution and sex trafficking.

Letters should go to:

Michel Sidibé
Executive Director
Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS)
20 Avenue Appia
1211 Geneva 27
SWITZERLAND
Email: sidibem@unaids.org
Fax: +41 22 791 4179

Helen Clark
Administrator
United Nations Development Programme
One United Nations Plaza
New York, NY 10017
USA
Email: helen.clark@undp.org
Fax: +1 212-906-5778

Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin
Executive Director
United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)
Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations
605 Third Avenue
New York, NY 10158
USA
Email: osotimehin@unfpa.org
Fax: +1 212-370-0201

With a copy to your country’s Ambassador to the UN, and to:

H.E. Ban Ki-moon
Secretary-General
United Nations, S-3800
New York, NY 10017
USA
Email: sg@un.org
Fax: +1 212-963-2155

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka
Executive Director
UN Women
Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations
405 East 42nd Street
New York, NY 10017
USA
Email: phumzile.mlambo-ngcuka@unwomen.org
Fax: +1 646-781-4444

Letters: 

Dear […],

I am deeply concerned about recommendations contained in two recent reports: the Global Commission on HIV and the Law’s report HIV and the Law: Risks, Rights and Health (2012), published by UNDP, and the UNDP, UNFPA and UNAIDS-backed report, Sex Work and the Law in Asia and the Pacific (2012). These reports not only make recommendations in direct opposition to international human rights standards, but also largely ignore the experiences and views of survivors of prostitution and sex trafficking.

These two reports tell countries that in order to support efforts to reduce HIV/AIDS and to promote the human rights of people in prostitution, all aspects of the commercial sex industry should be decriminalized, including pimping, brothel-keeping and the purchase of sex. However, the UN Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women calls for countries to “suppress all forms of traffic in women and exploitation of prostitution of women.” In addition, there is mounting evidence that decriminalization and legalization – including of brothels – does not protect people in prostitution or improve their situation.

Furthermore, I am concerned with the two reports’ recommendation to revise and narrow the definition of trafficking in the UN Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children (UN Trafficking Protocol), which would prevent many victims of trafficking from being recognized as such. This would jeopardize their ability to access support and justice, and reduce accountability for their traffickers.

The Swedish (or Nordic) model on prostitution addresses demand by decriminalizing the person in prostitution and criminalizing the buyers and pimps. This approach recognizes the inherent inequality in the power dynamic between the buyer and the person bought in a commercial sex transaction. The effectiveness of combating sex trafficking through addressing demand for commercial sex has been affirmed by the UN Trafficking Protocol, the UN Committee on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women, and the former head of UN Women, yet the two reports at issue call for laws that address the demand for commercial sex to be repealed.

Promoting the human rights of people in prostitution – including their right to health, safety and freedom from violence and exploitation – and protecting them from HIV, are imperative. However, the two reports’ recommendations are in direct opposition to efforts and policies that have been and are widely supported throughout the UN. They also jeopardize efforts to prevent and address sex trafficking and promote gender equality. These cannot be side effects of efforts to prevent HIV.

In November 2013 UNAIDS clarified its position, stating that it does “not advocat[e] for the decriminalization of pimping or brothel keeping.” I respectfully urge you that (1) UNFPA and UNDP clarify their positions on the decriminalization of pimps, brothel owners and buyers, and (2) all agencies include the views of survivors of commercial sexual exploitation as well as a more diverse range of groups working on the issue of prostitution and sex trafficking, in the future development of policies and programs on issues that affect people in the commercial sex industry.

I thank you for your attention.

Yours sincerely,

Letter to the Editor: Prosecuting Sex Buyers (NY Times)

8/5/2013 -- New York Times -- "Prosecuting Sex Buyers" Equality Now New York Director Lauren Hersh speaks out on the need to address demand in the fight against sex trafficking.


To the Editor:

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