We are pleased to welcome a fascinating post by Melissa Ditmore and Juhu Thukral on accountability and rights protection, with particular reference to anti-trafficking raids in United States.
Melissa Ditmore is a research consultant who has focused on trafficking, alongside health issues, violence, HIV and sex work. This post is based on a report from the Sex Workers Project (SWP) at the Urban Justice Center. Ditmore’s most recent book is Prostitution and Sex Work, a history of prostitution in the United States. She has published numerous books, book chapters, scholarly papers, and NGO-commissioned reports.
Juhu Thukral is a leading expert on the rights of low-income and immigrant women in the areas of sexual health and rights, gender-based violence, economic security, and criminal justice. She is a founder of numerous ventures supporting women and LGBT people, and has been recognized as one of “21 Leaders for the 21st Century 2012.” Thukral is the Director of Law and Advocacy at The Opportunity Agenda, where she leads strategic communications and policy initiatives on economic, immigrant, and gender and sexuality concerns. Prior to this, she was the founder and Director of the Sex Workers Project at the Urban Justice Center in New York City, where she continues to act as a Senior Advisor.
Trafficking in persons continues to be a serious human rights violation that affects workers all over the world. Trafficking in persons clearly involves human rights concerns, based on the coercion, threats, or violence that victims and survivors face. But the responses to human trafficking also involve very important human rights issues—a response to trafficking in persons that is rooted in human rights, respects the dignity and self-determination of the person who is thought to be a victim. This means creating an environment where the person at risk is able to make his or her own decisions about the steps he or she wants to take in addressing the situation. It also means doing the due diligence to investigate whether a situation involves coercion and trafficking, or not. This is one reason many anti-trafficking advocates oppose the use of raids as a way to stop trafficking, since those assessments can rarely be made in the setting of a raid.
Recently, I told a stranger at an airport what I did for a living. We were in the midst of our second flight delay and the chit-chatty conversation quickly parlayed into his long-desired, yet unfulfilled, passion to work on issues of human trafficking. He told me he had (quite sincerely) been meaning to volunteer for ages; meeting me opened the flood gates: what could he do? Who needed his help? Surely, there must be an organization just waiting for Someone Like Him to come along and offer his services. This conversation, in concert with our post on campaigns, warranted heavy meditation on alternative avenues for productive activism against human trafficking. (more…)
We are excited to have the following guest post from Georgina Perry. Georgina has been the service manager for Open Doors, a clinical, case management and outreach service for sex workers in City & Hackney, Newham and Tower Hamlets in the UK since 2003. Open Doors is a multi-disciplinary team of development and clinical practitioners, dedicated to improving the health and wellbeing of street and off street sex workers in East London.
Georgina has worked in the field of community health development since the early 90s, developing services for a range of ‘at risk’ populations in the UK and internationally. She has worked as a consultant for numerous humanitarian and development NGOs combining service development, research and public health skills to promote access to health and social care services for the most marginalised.
For the last three years I’ve been living in something of a parallel universe. A strange and often frustrating experience in which I have been relegated from a professional considered knowledgeable in her field, to a noisy troublemaker, determined to rail against received wisdom. I’ve had the data I assiduously collect, analyse and make public quoted back to me by law enforcement agencies, the media and NGOs but with clumsy interpretations skewed to strengthen a particular rhetoric, newspaper story or bid for funding and presented in such a way as to disregard the detailed analysis we provided of our service users, their demographic and how, where and why they work in the sex industry in London.
Indeed, as the 2012 London Olympics drew inexorably towards us, the whole of the UK suddenly became an expert on my job. It was a fascinating, frustrating and illuminating experience. One that has left me cynical and at times speechless at the sheer effrontery of those who stood to gain from talking up a story that, put simply, is not, has not and is unlikely to ever be a reality.
TTRP Submission to the Consultation on the PPS’ Policy on Prosecuting Cases of Human Trafficking (Northern Ireland)
This week, TTRP made a submission to the Public Prosecution Service (PPS) to their Consultation on the PPS’ Policy on prosecuting cases of human trafficking.
1. Consultation on the PPS’ Policy on prosecuting cases of human trafficking
1.1 In the last decade, there has been an increase in human trafficking in Northern Ireland; this increase has necessitated a more coordinated and robust approach by Government and civil society. The advent of devolution has enabled Northern Ireland to develop a localised and tailored approach to this issue. Within this context, the work of the Public Prosecution Service (PPS) is vital. Northern Ireland has been previously criticised for its limited response to trafficking and for a lack of prosecutions. The conviction of Matyas Pis in April 2012 sent a strong message to both perpetrators and victims. It is therefore important that this momentum is continued.
1.2 A rights-based approach must be taken to ensure a strong response to human trafficking. For example, the preamble to the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings notes: “Considering that respect for victims’ rights, protection of victims and action to combat trafficking in human beings must be the paramount objectives…” and sets the stage to mainstream rights throughout the Convention. The PPS is in an excellent position to further develop this approach and place the protection and promotion of the rights of victims at the centre of Northern Ireland’s response to trafficking. However, section 8 of the PPS Policy on the ‘views and interests of the victims’ fails to mention current state obligations to include victims in the criminal justice process. Throughout the Policy, we advocate making greater reference to the relevant legal instruments and Northern Ireland’s human rights obligations. (more…)