Research into International NGOs

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The major findings were—
  • The strategic approach identified by NGO towards anti-trafficking measures is relevant to and supports NGO’s mandate of addressing Violence against Women (VAW). It synchronizes with MDGs, Global VAW strategy, SAARC Convention, CEDAW article 6, BPfA and the New Aid Environment for Gender Equality.
  • UNIFEM's Programme on anti-trafficking is catalytic, context specific, integrated with a more holistic and gender-sensitive approaches in comparison to other UN agencies like UNICEF, UNODC and ILO.
  • Partners selected by UNIFEM have the requisite experience in the field and technical competence for combating human trafficking.
  • Interventions and project activities implemented were strategically relevant with spatiotemporal coverage from the perspectives of source, route and demand areas.
  • The stakeholders and beneficiaries selected were strategically relevant and spatially distributed.
  • GO-NGO consider NGO's role relevant in awareness and knowledge generation on trafficking of women and Children.
The major outcomes and impact were—
  • Regional Cooperation and linkages on anti-trafficking measures have made marginal progress
  • Improvement in legal framework and policy change towards combating trafficking of women and children is only nominal
  • There is no evidence of increase in recording of incidences of crime under Immoral Trafficking (Prevention) Act 1956
  • The number of arrests, prosecution and convictions do not reflect any distinct improvement, as was envisaged under the programme
  • Trafficking cases in the beneficiary villages are less as compared to the non-beneficiary villages due to increased public awareness
  • Attitudinal change towards survivor victims and their children have been observed in the beneficiary areas as a result of programme interventions
  • Psycho-social counselling and skill development measures promoted by the programme have infused self confidence among the beneficiary victims
  • Border vigilance has been effective in reducing human trafficking cases in the programme intervention areas
  • NGO supervised shelter homes/rehabilitation centres provide better living conditions, educational avenues and skill development capacities
International NGOs in the anti-trafficking movement hold opposing views on the issue of legalizing prostitution as a strategy for combating trafficking. It is of the view that while trafficking should be eradicated, legalizing prostitution could reduce trafficking, based on the premise that it is the illegality of the work that makes trafficking the major form of recruitment for the sex industry. Another NGO who opposes this view argues that prostitution should continue to be an illegal activity and that legalization would not eradicate the systemic control of female sexuality by males. Opposing NGO adamantly opposes legalization on the grounds that prostitution reduces all women to sex. They further argue that in poorer countries where women are ill-educated and socially discriminated, legalizing prostitution would help recruiters, who would no longer have to evade the law. It also points out that the trafficked women would not be conversant of the law, especially if they are trafficked to foreign countries and would not likely be in a position to control the terms and conditions of their work. The current U.S. Government policy is firmly against legalizing prostitution. The President’s National Security Directive on Human Trafficking of 25 February 2003 notes, “Prostitution and related activity, which are inherently harmful and de-humanizing contribute to the phenomenon of trafficking in persons, as do sex tourism, which is an estimated US$1 billion per year business per year.” Accordingly, USAID notes, “Organizations advocating prostitution as an employment choice or which support the legalization of prostitution are not appropriate partners of USAID anti-trafficking grants or contracts.” It is interesting to note that Thailand, which is in Tier 3 of the TIPS Report, is currently debating the issue of legalizing prostitution. It is among the ideas proposed by the think tank, National Economic and Social Development (NESDB), in February 2003 in order to turn underground businesses into legal ones and boost state revenues. The proponents of legalization of prostitution in Thailand have argued that it will reduce corruption of an underground economy and will help curb the risks of sexually transmitted diseases, such as HIV/AIDS, because the government and AIDS activists will have access to brothels. While the supply side of the commercial sex trade, consisting of the female sex worker, has become the main focus of sex trafficking discourse, the male-dominant demand side is less researched, analysed and much less visible. It is a demand driven industry and any successful anti-trafficking strategy needs to understand the demand in all its ramifications. The growth of the billion-dollar sex and entertainment industry is thriving because the male need to purchase female sex is tolerated as a “necessary evil.” While the male dominance of the institutions that nurture the demand for commercial sex, such as the entertainment industry, tourism, crime syndicates, the Internet, and the military are well known, how the demand is created for prostitution by the male clients is taken for granted as evidenced by Lerner’s description as a “ ‘natural’ by-product of human social formation needing no explanation.” There is obviously a methodological flaw on gathering data from the male clients. In focusing on eliminating the vulnerability of women to trafficking and prostitution, the discourse on the topic has a female bias. Women mainly gather data on male clients from women who are in the sex trade. Women find it difficult to access the networks of male clients and the nature of the discourse is such that clients have the anonymity that female sex workers do not. It is imperative that if anti-trafficking strategies are to be successful globally, the methodology should incorporate men gathering data from other men in order to obtain a comprehensive analytical view of the processes of socialization of male demand for commercial sex. It is interesting to note that when Sweden introduced laws in 1999 to criminalize men who purchase sex, while decriminalizing female prostitutes, the incidence of female sex trafficking dropped. It was, however, noted that while the demand for prostitution decreased in Sweden, it increased in neighbouring countries. The male clients simply went somewhere else.
  • International Organization for Migration (IOM) has field offices in the majority of countries in Eastern Europe and the CIS IOM approaches trafficking from a migration perspective. The organisation’s interventions include assistance to victims, awareness-raising campaigns, data collection, and research. Recent initiatives supported by IOM include a number of projects in the CEE and the CIS: Preventing trafficking of people for sexual exploitation in Croatia; Assistance for the return of victims of trafficking who are stranded in the Balkans; Reintegration support network for victims of trafficking who have returned to Albania; Establishment of a network of shelters for trafficking victims in Serbia and Montenegro, to mention a few. In CIS, the IOM conducted research projects collecting information on human trafficking and supporting projects in Ukraine, Moldova, Belarus, Kyrgyz Republic, Kazakhstan and Tajikistan to provide aid to victims of trafficking and training to social welfare and law enforcement agencies in dealing with trafficking victims.
  • The Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), concerned with the human rights aspect of trafficking, have launched a number of anti-trafficking initiatives that cover a wide range of thematic issues, particularly legislative reform, law enforcement, and public awareness. In July 2003 OSCE adopted an Action Plan to Combat Trafficking in Human Beings, urging states to take a range of specific measures such as liberalising labour markets to create greater job opportunities - particularly for women - and providing social and economic assistance to victims. The OSCE ODIHR produced a Reference Guide for Anti-Trafficking Legislative Review and Reform, also available in Russian, is a valuable tool for raising awareness about the complexity of the trafficking issue and the need for relevant legislative changes.
  • The US Department of State contributes to counter trafficking efforts by publishing its annual Trafficking in Persons Report, which provides important data on scale and size of phenomenon worldwide. The Department of Labour intends to fund the establishment of six training and support centres for women victims of trafficking or at-risk women in major cities in Central and Eastern Europe and the Newly Independent States, through its cooperative agreement with the International Research and Exchanges Board (IREX), a non-governmental organization. These centres will provide training for 6,480 women in areas such as basic job skills, computer literacy, job-seeking strategies and development of business plans.
  • The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) focuses primarily on prevention of Trafficking in persons (TIP), protection and assistance to victims, and reform and implementation of anti-TIP policy and legislation.[1]
Dimension of Anti-Trafficking Programmes The human rights principles of participation and representation require the involvement of affected persons, in particular the victim, and their communities in formulating anti-trafficking strategies. The centring of the affected persons produces several beneficial outcomes, including the following:
  • Creating a sense of ownership of the process
  • Enabling policy makers and practitioners to ‘learn from below’
  • Producing more effective, grounded and sustainable strategies
  • Developing cross-sectorial and multilevel partnerships
Keeping this central principle in mind, the following sections elaborate on the scope and content i.e. prevention, prosecution, protection and rehabilitation & reintegration. Prevention of Trafficking As stated earlier, one of the purposes of the Trafficking Protocol is to prevent trafficking, particularly of women and children and to promote cooperation among States Parties to achieve that end (Article 2, Trafficking Protocol). When planning prevention efforts, the following general considerations should be taken into account:
  1. Include long-term programs to address trafficking. These would involve ensuring the rights of trafficked person. More specific interventions would include reducing vulnerability through developing livelihood options in countries of origin and poverty alleviation schemes.
  2. Direct campaigns toward potential victims, officials and the public.
  3. Involve all key actors, including judicial and law enforcement personnel, migration authorities, NGOs and civil society, the media, international and intergovernmental organisations.
  4. Encourage the formation of collaborative partnerships between countries of destination, origin and transit.
A prevention strategy will need to consist of the following elements: awareness raising, training, research initiatives, addressing root causes, empowerment campaigns and border measures. These elements are not mutually exclusive, and indeed there is much scope for overlap between them.
[1] UNIFEM Regional Anti-Trafficking Programme in South Asia (2000-2009), Evaluation Report
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