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Monthly Archives: February 2013

The blame game

Winter’s end in the UK has brought along several interesting anti-trafficking initiatives.  Sexual violence converged with interpretations about victim responsibility in the media; Crimestoppers launched a new video seeking to raise awareness of forced labour; and a campaign focused on the exploitation of London’s hotel workers gained an audience at Westminster.

Last year, West Mercia police had to apologise for their anti-rape campaign which linked alcohol and rape, following pubic complaints; the campaign seemed to blame the victim for, well, being a victim.  In December 2012, The Independent carried an article which rounded-up the various “blame the victim” slurs and campaigns, from organisations and individuals alike.  This included George Galloway’s (MP) demotion of the rape allegations against Julian Assange as “bad sexual etiquette”.  January saw social media alive with the consternation at yet more instances of victim blaming relating to sexual violence.  A Gloucestershire MP stated:

If you are a young woman on her own trying to walk back home … early in the morning in a tight, short skirt and high shoes and there’s a predator and if you are blind drunk and wearing those clothes how able are you to get away?   … life doesn’t give you full protection from a predator all the time.

It seems though that no-one told the BBC that victim blaming was out.  Their odd story, supposedly to coincide with Valentine’s Day, “How safe do women feel on a night out?” interviewed five women about their personal safety concerns when on a night out with friends, which focused depressingly on the correlation between their choice of clothing and safety from sexual violence.  Across the pond, advice faired no better, as reflected in the worrying advice from the University of Colorado, which encouraged women to tell their attackers that they had a disease or were menstruating, as a method of repelling an attack. (more…)

Domestic matters: violence against women and human trafficking

The relationship between violence against women (VAW) and human trafficking is often taken for granted. Historic ties between the sexual exploitation of women, prostitution and trafficking resulted in a framework in which the two became intrinsically linked. Human trafficking is frequently subsumed under VAW, as in the 1993 UN Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women, while anti-trafficking campaigners, to varying degrees, re-tell trafficking victim stories through individual experiences of VAW. For instance, NotForSale, a US-based campaign group, relies on the imagery created through a victim’s subjection to violence and abuse: “Shaking with fear, the girls went into separate bedrooms, where the portly men raped them.” Hyperbole may reinforce a specific image of trafficking heavily reliant on situations of (predominately) women raped and abused in forced prostitution. The reality is that violence and the threat of violence, including psychological and emotional abuse, are recognized indicators of coercion – for all victims of trafficking. As a result, we often lose sight of an opportunity to examine the full range of actions, causes and consequences between these intersecting forms of victimization. Although this post is concerned with women, the violence and abuse experienced by men in situations of trafficking is an area for future examination. (more…)

Getting organised: the global challenges of collaboration

Libby Clarke is a UK qualified solicitor who has spent the last five years working on various human rights issues, including the protection of asylum-seekers and refugees in the UK (with Refugee and Migrant Justice), the protection of the rights to equality and non-discrimination internationally (with The Equal Rights Trust) and, most recently, as a Senior Consultant to the Anti-Trafficking Programme at Humanitarian Organization for Migration Economics (HOME) in Singapore. With a long-standing interest in, and commitment to, the improved protection of the rights of disadvantaged migrants, Libby is delighted to contribute to the TTRP blog!

In November 2012, over 1,800 activists from more than 50 countries gathered in Quezon City, Philippines for the fifth World Social Forum on Migrations (WSFM). The objectives of the WSFM were broad, but essentially aimed to bring together migrant organisations and activists in order to build solidarity and strengthen unity in resistance against existing models of migration. As a Senior Consultant to its Anti-Trafficking Programme, I had the opportunity to join a delegation of staff, volunteers and service-users from Humanitarian Organization for Migration Economics (HOME) to participate in the WSFM. This post explores some of the challenges which arose during the event and highlights the similarity to the challenges facing migration-related activism, and specifically the anti-trafficking movement, in Singapore. (more…)

Submission to the APPG on Prostitution and the Global Sex Trade (UK)

Last week, TTRP made a submission to the All Party Parliamentary Group on Prostitution and the Global Sex Trade.

An All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) occupies a strategic and effective position within the Parliamentary system.  An APPG is cross-party, with a minimum number of Parliamentarians from Government and the official opposition, and cross-House, made up of both peers and MPs.  These groups are not funded by Parliament.  APPGs do not have any powers to compel witnesses or submissions.  Groups can have a number of staffing options – some have no dedicated staff, others utilise external consultants with specialist skills and some, like the APPG on Prostitution, have their secretariat functions performed by external NGOs.  In this case Care, a Christian NGO, which declares itself to be:

… a well-established mainstream Christian charity providing resources and helping to bring Christian insight and experience to matters of public policy and practical caring initiatives.  CARE demonstrates Christ’s compassion to people of all faiths and none believing that individuals are of immense value, not because of the circumstances of their birth, their behaviour or achievements, but because of their intrinsic worth as people.  CARE is represented in the UK Parliaments and Assemblies, at the EU in Brussels and the UN in Geneva and New York.

The APPG on Prostitution and the Global Sex Trade has a website, though it contains limited information about the Group’s work.  The purpose of the Group, as set out in the Register, is to:

raise awareness of the impact of the sale of sexual services on those involved and to develop proposals for government action to tackle individuals who create demand for sexual services as well as those who control prostitutes; to protect prostituted women by helping them to exit prostitution and to prevent girls from entering prostitution.

Gavin Shuker (Lab) is Chair; Claire Perry (Con) is Treasurer and; Fiona McTaggart (Lab) is Secretary.

The inquiry took the form of an online questionnaire, though the background to the inquiry and the questions asked can be found here.

Our full response can be accessed here.

En-abling protection? Part 2

Last week we examined the intersection between human trafficking and disability; we argued that this issue requires further attention in research, policy and legislative terms to ensure that states meet their commitments to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).  Now, we move to look at the application of the Convention to victims of trafficking.  This post also considers how states restrict the application of rights based on migration status and the consequential impact this has on the access to, and protection of, the rights of disabled victims of trafficking.  Finally, we consider the action that states need to take to improve the fulfilment of rights to this group.

The Convention contains a number of provisions relevant to victims of trafficking.  Firstly, Article 16 requires states take steps to protect those with disabilities from exploitation, violence and abuse.  Within this is the requirement that governments allocate assistance and support for disabled people to prevent exploitation, including education and information on exploitation.  Article 16 also recognises the additional discrimination which may be faced by disabled people on the basis of age and gender.  We argue that ethnic or community background should also be considered within this framework:  for example, the challenges faced by a disabled Roma woman may be significantly different from those faced by a white British disabled trafficking victim. (more…)