Trafficking

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

Action Number: 
51.1
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,

United States: Address role of U.S. military in fueling global sex trafficking

Action Number: 
48.1
Update: 
Not an update
Date: 
2013 Mar 4

view as pdf

What You Can Do: 

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

  • Please call on the U.S. government to enforce Article 134 of the UCMJ on “pandering” and “patronizing a prostitute” and affirm its commitment to combating the demand for commercial sex that fuels sex trafficking. Doing so would help ensure that the United States lives up to its national and international commitments to prevent the sex trafficking and exploitation of women and girls around the world, and its zero tolerance policy on human trafficking.
  • Read Alma’s story as part of Equality Now’s yearlong campaign, Survivor Stories, which showcases survivor leadership in the anti-trafficking movement: www.equalitynow.org/survivorstories

Letters should be addressed to:

President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500
United States of America
Fax: + 1 202-456-2461
E-mail: president@whitehouse.gov
www.whitehouse.gov/contact

The Hon. Chuck Hagel
Secretary of Defense
Office of the Sec. of Defense
1400 Defense Pentagon
Washington, DC 20301
Tel: +1(703) 571-3343
Fax: +1(703) 571-8951
E-mail: chuck.hagel@osd.mil

Ambassador-at-Large Luis CdeBaca
U.S. Department of State
Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons
1800 G Street NW,
Washington D.C., 20520
Tel: +1(202) 312-9639
Fax:  +1(202) 312-9637

Letters: 

Dear President/Secretary/Ambassador,

I am concerned about the U.S. military’s role in fueling sex trafficking and exploitation in the commercial sex industry around the world. The U.S. government has officially recognized the link between the demand for commercial sex and the sex trafficking industry, and took action in 2005 to ban U.S. service members from purchasing sex. However, I am troubled that this provision against purchasing sex is not being adequately enforced. Recent news articles and reports indicate that women and girls continue to be trafficked to and exploited in brothels around U.S. military bases overseas despite the U.S. government’s zero tolerance policy on sex trafficking and the demand that fuels it.

Sex trafficking is a criminal industry that operates on the market principles of supply and demand. The demand is created by men who pay for commercial sex, ensuring that sex trafficking continues to exist. Traffickers, pimps and facilitators profit from this demand by supplying the millions of women and girls who are exploited on a daily basis around the world. The U.S. government is bound by international and national anti-trafficking laws and policies to reduce this demand. Lack of enforcement of the military provision banning the purchase of sex undermines the U.S. government’s commitment to combating sex trafficking, and perpetuates the abuse of women and girls around the world.

I respectfully urge the U.S. government to enforce the provision banning U.S. service members from purchasing sex and affirm its commitment to combating the demand  that fuels sex trafficking. Doing so would help ensure the United States lives up to its national and international commitments to prevent the sex trafficking and exploitation of women and girls around the world, and its zero tolerance policy on human trafficking. Thank you for your attention.

Sincerely,

Sex Tourism: The Business of Trafficking (WGBH)

1/15/2013 -- WGBH -- "Human Trafficking: The Business of Trafficking" Anti-Trafficking Consultant Kenneth Franzblau comments on the 'sex tourism' industry. (In 1996 Equality Now issued an action on sex tourism, calling for the shutdown of NY-based Big Apple Oriental Tours. Following an unprecedented civil case, the operators of the company were indicted by a grand jury for promotion of prostitution in 2004.

New York Office Director Tzili Mor on Backpage.com's global facilitation of sex trafficking (NY Post)

3/20/12 -- NY Post -- "‘SexTrafficking.com’: Enslaved girls for sale on Village Voice Media site" New York Office Director Tzili Mor on Backpage.com's global facilitation of sex trafficking: "We can’t sit quietly and idly by while big business is protected at the expense of women’s rights. It’s a sad statement that the US cannot get its act together to protect girls and women from being raped.

Anuradha Koirala

Nepal’s Fearless Crusader Against Sex Trafficking
Anuradha Koirala

What inspired you to start Maiti Nepal?

I was brought up in a family that regarded providing services for humankind as the best form of pious work. Secondly, I studied in a convent school, where I grew up with sisters and mother that further increased my devotion towards the social work. Finally, Mother Teresa was the biggest source of inspiration to instigate a mission for the betterment of humankind. These reasons led to the establishment of Maiti Nepal.

What changes have you seen since you started Maiti Nepal?

India: The Demand for Sex Trafficking: Holding Commercial Sex Buyers Accountable

Action Number: 
30.1
Update: 
Not an update
Date: 
2008 May 1

“Naina has been raped by an old man. The same thing happened to me when I was ten years old. I hate the people who bought me and pushed me into this as much as I hate the men who were my clients!” (Meena, prostitution survivor whose 13-year-old daughter was trafficked into prostitution)

What You Can Do: 

Please write to the officials below calling on the Indian Government to adopt strong measures to end trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation, including Section 5C of the Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Amendment (ITPA) Bill 2006, which would penalize buyers of prostituted sex. Ask them also to address the underlying issue of gender inequality and the system that allows those most marginalized in society, particularly “lower” caste women and children, to be exploited for commercial sex. Request that the Government put programs in place to provide viable alternatives to prostitution so that women such as Beenu, Meena, Fatima and others have other options to provide for themselves and their families.

Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh
Prime Minister’s Office
South Block, Raisina Hill
New Delhi, 110011, INDIA
Email: pmosb@pmo.nic.in
Fax: +91 (0)1123016857

Mrs. Sonia Gandhi, President
Indian National Congress
10 Janpath/24 Akbar Road
New Delhi, 110011, INDIA
Email: soniagandhi@sansad.nic.in
Fax: +91 (0)1123017047

Shri Kapil Sibal, Minister of State
Science & Technology/Earth Sciences
19, Teen Murti Marg
New Delhi, 110011, INDIA
Email: ksibal@sansad.nic.in
Fax: +91 (0)1123018705

United States: Sex Tourism: Big Apple Oriental Tours Acquitted of State Criminal Charges. Federal Action Needed to Prosecute G.F. Tours and other U.S.-Based Sex Tour Operators

Action Number: 
27.2
Update: 
UPDATE
Date: 
2009 May 1

In 1996, Equality Now launched a Women’s Action campaign calling for the prosecution of Big Apple Oriental Tours (BAOT). At the time, the company was advertising a twelve-day trip to the Philippines for sex tourists at the cost of $2,195, which included transportation, airfare, hotel room, and the ability of the sex tourist to “select your companion upon arrival in Angeles City” in a commercial sex transaction that would be brokered by a BAOT representative at the customer’s request.

What You Can Do: 

Please write to the new U.S. Attorney General and call on him to prosecute Gunter Frentz, the owner/operator of G.F. Tours, and other sex tour operators for knowingly and openly transporting individuals to other countries with the intent of engaging in prostitution in violation of the Mann Act and Travel Act. Reiterate that sex tourism is a criminal act that exploits and harms women, and very often children, while it supports a multi-billion dollar industry in human trafficking. Urge the Attorney General to clarify to all federal prosecutors that the Department of Justice policy is to prosecute U.S.-based sex tour operators.

Letters should be addressed to:

U.S. Attorney General Eric H. Holder, Jr.
U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20530, USA
Fax: + 1 202-307-6777
E-mail: AskDOJ@usdoj.gov

Sample letter

Women's Action 12.1: December 1996
Women's Action 12.2: March 2004
Women's Action 12.3: October 2005
Women's Action 27.1: October 2005

 

Urgent Alert: South Africa: Urgent call: World Cup Soccer and Sex Trafficking – A Volatile Combination

Update: 
Not an update
Date: 
2010 May 10

 

  Taina Bien-Aimé Executive Director of Equality Now, speaks on South Africa and t

What You Can Do: 

Please write to the South African officials below, calling on them to enact and effectively enforce the Prevention and Combating of Trafficking in Persons Bill 2010 prior to the commencement of the World Cup. Urge the government to provide protection and services to victims of trafficking, offering the resources necessary to provide practical alternatives to prostituted women and their families.

 

Letters should be sent to

President Jacob Zuma
Union Buildings
Private Bag X1000,
Pretoria, 0001
South Africa
Fax: +27 12 323 8246
Email: president@po.gov.za

Minister Jeffrey Thamsanqa Radebe, MP
Minister of Justice
Private Bag X276,
Pretoria, 0001
South Africa
Fax: +27 12 315 1749
Email: Ministry@justice.gov.za

Hon Max Vuyisile Sisulu, MP
Speaker of the National Assembly
South Africa
Fax: +27 21 461 9462
Email: speaker@parliament.gov.za

Send copies of your letters to:
The National Prosecuting Authority of South Africa – Sexual Offences and Community Affairs (SOCA) Unit
P/Bag X752,
Pretoria, 0001
South Africa
Email: communication@npa.gov.za

Sample letter

Pakistan: End exploitation and abuse of girls in domestic servitude

Action Number: 
35.1
Update: 
Not an update
Date: 
2010 May 24
Update Date: 
2013 Jun 25
Update: 

25 JUNE 2013 UPDATE: Equality Now continues to call on the Government of Pakistan to adopt laws against child domestic servitude. In January 2013, Equality Now and our partners in Pakistan submitted a report on the issue to the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women at its 54th session. In its recommendations, the Committee called on Pakistan to implement a national comprehensive plan on internal trafficking; strengthen mechanisms for the investigation, prosecution and punishment of trafficking offenders and support services for victims; and conduct nationwide awareness-raising campaigns on the risks and consequences of trafficking targeted at women and girls, and provide systematic training to all relevant law enforcement officials on its causes and consequences.


 

Shazia's funeralOn 22 January 2010, Shazia Masih, a 12-year-old Pakistani girl employed as a domestic servant, was taken to the hospital in an unconscious state where she died shortly thereafter.

What You Can Do: 

Please write to the Prime Minister, Speaker of National Assembly, Federal Minister for Labour and Manpower, Federal Minister for Human Rights and the Minister for Law and Justice asking them to ban domestic work for children; and to regulate the working hours, work conditions and wages in the domestic work sector to prevent the abuse and exploitation of adult domestic workers. Urge them to take administrative, social and educational measures to protect the rights of children and end their exploitation. In addition please urge them to ensure that the trafficking legislation addresses domestic trafficking within Pakistan and protects children who are trafficked into domestic servitude. TAKE ACTION!

Letters should go to:

HE Syed Yousaf Raza Gillani
Prime Minister of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan
The Prime Minister’s Secretariat
Islamabad, Pakistan
Fax: +92 51 922 1596
Tel: +92 51 920 6111
Email: secretary@cabinet.gov.pk

Dr. Fehmida Mirza
Speaker, National Assembly of Pakistan
Parliament House
Islamabad, Pakistan
Fax: +92 51 922 1106
Tel: +92 51 922 1082/83
Email: speaker@na.gov.pk

Mr. Syed Khursheed Ahmed Shah
Federal Minister for Labour and Manpower
27, Minister’s Enclave
Islamabad, Pakistan
Fax: +92 51 920 3462
Tel: +92 51 921 3686
Email: minister@molm.gov.pk

Mr. Syed Mumtaz Alam Gillani
Federal Minister for Human Rights
3rd Floor, Old USAID Building
Ataturk Avenue, G-5/1
Islamabad, Pakistan
Fax: +92 51 924 4542
Tel: +92 51 924 4526
Email: minister@mohr.gov.pk

Dr. Zaheeruddin Babar Awan
Minister for Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs
Ministry of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs
Islamabad, Pakistan
Email: minister@molaw.gov.pk

Sample letter

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