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Building Public Awareness to Prevent Sex Trafficking and Sexual Exploitation

  • Drafters should create provisions to address the need for public awareness that sex trafficking and prostitution are forms of violence against women and girls. When women and girls are trafficked or prostituted, their human rights are violated. Drafters should also create provisions to address the need for general public awareness about the risks of victimization, the dynamics of sex trafficking, including the demand for the sale of women and girls for sex, methods for reporting suspected recruitment activities, and information on hotlines and services.
  • Drafters should create provisions to address the need for public awareness directed at marginalized or isolated women, including rural women, immigrant women and undocumented women. 

Promising Practices:

There are a number of NGOs and governments that have developed innovative solutions to reach marginalized or isolated women.  The report, Strategies to End Double Violence Against Undocumented Women profiles a several of these tactics.

Examples include:

  • Ban Ying in Berlin, Germany created billboards in Chinese and Tagalog that appeared to advertise soap, but in actuality displayed information about domestic worker’s rights and a helpline. They also delivered soap to homes with domestic workers that included information about worker’s rights and phone numbers listed in 8 languages.
  • Dublin Rape Crisis Center in Ireland ran a billboard campaign and displayed a helpline on buses.
  • Jesuit Refugee Service of Malta does specific outreach within detention centres. Senperforto, a European Project addressing gender based violence in detention centers created printed literature in a variety of languages, as well as posters that were specifically designed for illiterate women.

(See: Strategies to End Double Violence Against Undocumented Women, Platform for International Cooperation on Undocumented Migrants, 21-23, 2012)

 

(1)  Information about the risks of becoming a victim, including information about common recruitment techniques, use of debt bondage, and other coercive tactics, risk of maltreatment, rape, exposure to HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases, and psychological harm related to victimization in trafficking cases;

(2)  Information about the risks of engaging in commercial sex and possible punishment; and

(3)  Information about victims’ rights;

(4)  Methods for reporting suspected recruitment activities; and

(5)  Information on hotlines and available victims’ services.

  • Article 34 of the UNODC Model Law Against Trafficking in Persons suggests that awareness should be raised about the following aspects of the demand: 
    • Products and services that are produced by exploitative and forced labour; to regulate, register and license private recruitment agencies;
    • Sensitizing employers
    • Not to engage victims of trafficking or forced labour in their supply chain, whether through subcontracting or directly in their production;
    • To enforce labour standards through labour inspections and other relevant means;
    • To support the organization of workers;
    • To increase the protection of the rights of migrant workers; and/or
    • To criminalize the use of services of victims of trafficking or forced labour.

(See: UNODC Model Law Against Trafficking in Persons, Art. 34, 2009; See also Polaris Project Model Comprehensive State Legislation to Combat Trafficking in Persons, 2.4, 2006 and 2010 European Parliament Resolution on Preventing Trafficking in Human Beings)

 

Promising Practice:

 The nongovernmental organization, UNANIMA International started an international campaign to address demand for trafficking in women and girls. The campaign, Stop the demand for Trafficking in Women and Children, concentrated on demand with the understanding and philosophy that such a focus cannot simply be on the buyers/perpetrators of sexual exploitation, but should include a critical look at the broader context of culture that supports commercial sexual exploitation. Further expanding on this principle, UNANIMA states that “[d]emand, however, does not simply begin with the desires of the “consumers” of sex trafficking. It begins with the commodification and exploitation of women and some men everywhere: advertisements, internet, television shows, etc. The extent to which the demand for sex has been normalized and is even increasing in our societies is shown clearly in the socio-cultural, economic, and political connections between pornography, prostitution, and sex trafficking.”

The campaign was active from 2007-2010 and consisted of two phases, phase one focused on awareness raising activities and phase two was dedicated to those vulnerable to trafficking. The campaign produced materials in four languages, including pamphlets, posters, and faith-based materials among other outreach materials that focus on demand and the culture that supports commercial sexual exploitation. (See: Stop the Demand Campaign Overview, UNANIMA)

 

Illustrative Examples: 

To discourage the demand that fosters all forms of exploitation of persons, especially women and children, that leads to trafficking, each Party shall adopt or strengthen legislative, administrative, educational, social, cultural or other measures including:

a. research on best practices, methods and strategies;

b. raising awareness of the responsibility and important role of media and civil society in identifying the demand as one of the root causes of trafficking in human beings;

c. target information campaigns involving, as appropriate, inter alia, public authorities and policy makers;

d. preventive measures, including educational programmes for boys and girls during their schooling, which stress the unacceptable nature of discrimination based on sex, and its disastrous consequences, the importance of gender equality and the dignity and integrity of every human being.

(See: 2005 Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings,Section 6)

  • The Colombian Human Trafficking Law contains a provision addressing the issue of demand related to the prevention of human trafficking. Article 5 provides that “The Colombian State, through the National Government of its judicial and police, and national and territorial authorities, bring forward measures and campaigns and programs to prevent trafficking in persons, grounded in the protection of Human Rights, which take into account that demand is one of its root causes; consider the factors that increase the vulnerability to trafficking, including inequality, poverty and discrimination in all its forms, and reflect the cultural and ethnic diversity of potential victims.” (See: Colombia Human Trafficking Law, Article 5, 2005 (Spanish))

 

Promising Practice: Spain continues to incorporate efforts to decrease demand into their national action plan and government initiatives. In 2011, the Ministry of Health, Social Services and Equality sponsored the exhibit, “Slaves of the 21st Century” that depicts the causes and consequences of trafficking in persons. (U.S. State Department 2012 Trafficking in Persons Report, 321, 2012) In Uruguay, authorities partnered with an NGO to train 30 journalists on trafficking in persons, and the Ministry of Tourism carried out awareness raising campaigns on commercial sexual exploitation at the airport and border patrol agencies. (U.S. State Department 2012 Trafficking in Persons Report, 367, 2012)

 

CASE STUDY:

A film called Affected for Life has been produced by the UNODC's Anti-Human Trafficking and Migrant Smuggling Unit together with Danish Doc Production. The film debuted at the European Union Ministerial Conference "Towards Global EU Action Against Human Trafficking" in October 2009 and will be used in the United Kingdom by the UK Human Trafficking Centre (UKHTC) as a part of its Blue Blindfold campaign.

The video is available in both full-length and abbreviated versions in English, with forthcoming versions in Arabic, French, Russian and Spanish. A 23 minute version of the film targets prosecutors, judges and criminal justice system professionals. The shorter 13 minute version of the film is aimed at raising awareness of what human trafficking is and how it is defined. To watch the short 13 minute version of the film, click here. To watch the long 23 minute version of the film, click here. (See: UNODC Anti-Human Trafficking Training Film, 2010)

  • Human rights practitioners suggest additional research on strategies to reduce the demand is needed because prevention efforts that focus on education, communication, and information alone have not led to a significant decline in the numbers of sex trafficking victims. An approach which shifts the focus to countries where men consume the sexual services of trafficked women is needed. (See: Trafficking in Human Beings and Sexual Exploitation: Preliminary Research on the Reduction of Demand, Human Rights without Frontiers, 2010) For more information on demand, please see the section on Penalties for Buyers.

Tools:

Listen to a Judge from Turkey discuss sex trafficking in her country and Turkey’s efforts to combat sex trafficking, including the “Have You Seen my Mother” campaign. Listen here in English. (See: Turkey’s Efforts to Combat Trafficking, National Institute of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, 2008)

Zero Tolerance, Handle with Care: A guide to responsible media reporting of violence against women (2011). This guide sets forth standards and procedures for reporting on men’s violence against women. Survivors’ perspectives challenge journalists to help change society by reporting men’s violence against women in a more neutral way. Available in English.

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