On the occasion of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW60) Peace Islands Institute (PII), the Journalists and Writers Foundation (JWF), UN Office of Information and Communications Technology (UN OICT), and Arigatou International, and organized a side-event entitled “Human Trafficking as a Form of Violence against Girls and Women” during the CSW60 on 17 March 2016 at the United Nations Headquarters. In this panel discussion, the organizers gathered the representatives of civil society and faith-based organizations to create a cohesive platform for experts on violence against children and particularly child trafficking to present their views. In this platform PII, JWF, UN OICT and Arigatou International aimed to highlight the practical solutions with adequate responses to combat the child trafficking within the lines of the Global Partnership to End Violence Against Children.
After creating awareness on this extremely important issue H.E. Atefeh Riazi, the Assistant Secretary General of the UN Office of Information and Communications Technology indicated in her keynote remarks that women and girls can be bought just for 300 dollars online and that all international agencies and civil society organizations have an important responsibility to work to ensure that women and children are protected against this increasing international trafficking.
As a first panelist, H.E. Emmanuel L. Caparas, the Secretary of Justice in the Philippines, informed the participants about the Government of Philippines` strategy entitled “4 Key Strategy” to combat the human trafficking in the Philippines. The strategy’s success depends on the interaction of the following areas: Advocacy and Prevention; Recovery and Reintegration; Prosecution and Law Enforcement and finally Protecting and Cooperation. With this strategy the Government of Philippines work on to eliminate the huge number of victims, especially women who are the most frequent victims with 93%.
Following H.E. Caparas` remarks, Dr. Swadesh Rana, Former Chief of the UN Conventional Arms Branch and Senior Fellow in World Policy Institute, has drawn the attention to human trafficking as an increasing global issue. Dr. Rana said that human and child trafficking is a bigger problem than gender equality and that drug trafficking is even smaller. “More and more women and children, especially refugees, are on danger and become victims of human trafficking. We have to focus on this issue by establishing a minimum labor standards and supporting access to education“ said Dr. Rana when concluding her remarks.
As the next panelist, Rebeca Rios-Kohn, the Director of Prayer and Action for Children at Arigatou International, indicated that “sexual exploitation is the most common form of human trafficking and it’s a high profit, low-risk trade for those who engage in this criminal activity and most trafficked victims are women and children of low socio-economic status.” According to Rios-Kohn, the new phenomenon is the online exploitation. The sexual abuse of children is filmed and recorded and “used to blackmail victims for money”. According to Rios-Kohn, faith-based organizations and religious communities should help to prevent the trafficking of women and children, because as she indicated the “religion can serve both as driver and impediment to development efforts as part of the problem or part of the solution”.
The Co-Director of the Anti-Human Trafficking Initiatives and Covenant House, Jane Bigelsen, shared her experience about homeless women victims of sex trafficking in New York City. Homeless women are the most targeted for the human traffickers and 15% of them have experienced sex trafficking. Another 10% engaged survival sex, which means that the victims had no other choice but trade sex usually for a place to stay. According to Bigelsen, the lack of job training and education is a problem both in leading to and getting out of human trafficking. Founding programs that involved job training and education could be one solution to solve it. Bigelsen indicated “If we really want to get serious about fighting human trafficking in this country, we need to be serious about providing services for homeless youth”.