Sunday, November 22, 2020

IV. Root causes of trafficking in women and girls 4/7


IV. Root causes of trafficking in women and girls

18.    Identifying, addressing and eliminating the following root causes are key to States parties’ obligations to prevent trafficking and sexual exploitation in women and girls in the context of global migration: (a) systemic gender-based discrimination creating the economic and social injustice experienced disproportionately by women and girls; (b) situations of conflicts and humanitarian emergencies, including, consequent displacement; (c) discrimination in migration and asylum regimes; and, (d) the demand that fosters exploitation and leads to trafficking.

19.    Criminal law alone is unable to address or redress the crime of trafficking due to uneven harmonization of laws, including the definition of trafficking both between countries and within countries, complexity of the financial operations, powerlessness of justice systems which are often corrupt, underfunded and under resourced to fight against powerful trafficking nets. An effective anti-trafficking response ensuring women and girls are able to exercise their fundamental rights must therefore engage all substantive provisions of the Convention read within the international human rights treaty framework.

          A.     Socio-economic injustice

20.    Trafficking in women and girls is rooted in sex and gender-based discrimination, gender-based structural inequality and the feminization of poverty. Significantly, women and girls most vulnerable to being trafficked belong to marginalized groups whose life experience is marked by serious rights deprivation. These include: women and girls living in rural and remote areas, indigenous and ethnic minority communities, those with disabilities, with an irregular migration status, as well as those who are displaced, stateless or at risk of statelessness, refugees, asylum-seekers (including those whose claims have been rejected), living in or coming from conflict or post-conflict settings; and, for girls, without care or in alternative care. These groups often experience social, political and economic exclusion in the form of being impoverished, uneducated or under-educated, unregistered or undocumented, unemployed or underemployed, carrying the burden of household and childcare responsibilities, restricted in their access to State benefits, protection and services, having experienced intimate partner and domestic violence, abuse and neglect in their family environment, care institutions or subjected to child and forced and servile marriage or deprivations due to widowhood. These situations can be aggravated by the acquisition of an impairment or a severe illness as consequence of trafficking including sexual exploitation.

21.    Women and girls continue to be the prime targets of traffickers for specific forms of exploitation due to pervasive and persistent gender and age inequalities resulting in an economic, social and legal status that is lower in comparison to that which is enjoyed by men and boys. Violations of all Convention rights may be found at the root of trafficking of women and girls and need to be addressed as part of a gender-transformative approach that empowers women and girls by promoting their civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights in line with Sustainable Development Goals 1, 3, 4, 5, 8, 10, 11, 13 and 16.

           B.     Discrimination in migration and asylum regimes

22.    Migration is a constitutive element of modern society and can be empowering for women if they are able to migrate and work in conditions that respect their dignity. While it presents new social and economic opportunities for many women migration may also place their human rights and security at risk, particularly if compelled to travel through irregular channels and/or result in an irregular migration situation. Women and girls face an increased risk of being trafficked at all stages of the migration cycle, in transit, in reception and accommodation facilities, at borders and in destination countries. Upon return they may experience reprisals and revictimisation.

23.    While States have a sovereign prerogative to manage their borders and regulate migration they must do so in full compliance with their obligations as parties to the human rights treaties they have ratified or acceded to. That includes transparency and accountability in the ways States govern migration and provide safe pathways guaranteeing the human rights of women throughout all stages of migration.

24    Sex-specific or discriminatory migration and asylum policies establishing measures such as increased border control, refusal of entry, pushbacks, expulsion or detention limit the movement of women and girls fleeing from crises and conflict zones. This heightens their vulnerability to all forms of exploitation, particularly at points of transit, not least due to an increased need to use the services of human smugglers or other types of underground or criminal networks in order to move, both internally as well as internationally to evade border controls. Girls unaccompanied or separated from their families or other support structures due to displacement are particularly vulnerable to being trafficked.

25.    The Committee reaffirms that displacement has specific gender dimensions and the Convention applies at every stage of the displacement cycle, during flight, settlement and return. It has recognized that gender-based violence against women and girls is one of the major forms of persecution experienced by women and girls that may be grounds for granting refugee status and asylum, and/or residence on humanitarian grounds. Trafficking in women and girls breaches specific provisions of the Refugee Convention and should therefore in specific cases be recognized as a legitimate ground for international protection in law and in practice. Furthermore, women and girl refugees are highly vulnerable to trafficking and are in need of international protection, especially against refoulement.

26.    Gender-neutral provisions in States’ migration policies contribute to limiting women’s access to safe and regular migration pathways and to regular and decent job opportunities in transit and destination countries. Women’s ability to migrate is further restricted by gender-based stereotypes, discriminatory laws, discrimination and exploitation in recruitment, lack of available decent work, limited reliable information on migration. Migrant women also face indirect discrimination from migration laws which sometimes have requisites such as a mandatory minimum income in order to obtain a visa. Since women are often employed in low-waged and insecure employment this makes it difficult for some women to satisfy these criteria.

27. Visa regimes may be responsible for creating an economic and legal dependency on an employer or spouse, creating the conditions for exploitation and for sponsors to operate with impunity. Temporary or seasonal work in which migrant women are often engaged may not offer pathways to more regular, long-term or permanent employment and often does not offer unemployment protection, healthcare and access to other gender-responsive social protection and essential services. Notably, sex-specific migration bans or restrictions, designed to ‘protect women from trafficking’, often heighten the risk of women becoming victims of trafficking as they seek alternative ways to migrate.

28. A disproportionate number of migrant women are engaged in informal and precarious employment, particularly in sectors categorised as “low-skilled” such as care, domestic, manufacturing services. In these sectors, sex-specific migration rules and policies intersect with racial discrimination to perpetuate sex-based stereotypes about what constitutes “women’s work” and discrimination against women. These gender-segregated labour markets do not offer decent and safe working conditions as they are either part of the unregulated informal economy or, where regulated, provide fewer protections than national standards. Women migrants, in particular domestic and farm workers, may be confined to their place of work and have little access to information about their rights and entitlements thereby exposing them to severe human rights violations.

          C.     Demand that fosters exploitation and leads to trafficking

29. Strategies aimed at preventing trafficking must take into account demand as a root cause. Failure to recognize the demand is acknowledged to be one of the barriers to States addressing human trafficking. Demand in the context of trafficking is often shaped by desire for financial gain, discriminatory attitudes, including cultural attitudes, and beliefs. Women may be preferred for certain forms of exploitation because they are perceived as weak and less likely to assert themselves or to claim the rights to which they are entitled. Certain ethnic or racial groups may be targeted for trafficking-related exploitation on the basis of racist or culturally discriminatory assumptions relating to, for example, their sexuality, and servility or work capacity. The need to address demand for certain forms of trafficking is particularly urgent.

30. Sexual exploitation persists due to States parties’ failure to effectively discourage the demand that fosters exploitation and leads to trafficking. Persisting norms and stereotypes regarding male domination, the need to assert male control or power, enforce patriarchal gender roles, male sexual entitlement, coercion and control which drive the demand for sexual exploitation of women and girls. Massive financial gains with few risks due to the impunity are still widespread. Paragraph 5 of Article 9 of the UN Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime obliges states to adopt or strengthen legislative or other measures to discourage the demand that fosters all forms of exploitation of persons, especially women and children, that leads to trafficking. The need to address the demand that fosters sexual exploitation is especially important in the context of digital technology which exposes potential victims to increased risk of trafficking.

31. In the context of labour as a form of trafficking in women and girls, demand for trafficking persists due to insufficient regulatory environment. Where workers are organized and where labour standards for wages, working hours and conditions, and health and safety, are monitored and enforced, where economic and social rights, as well as changes to tax laws so States can finance the public services that women need are adequately implemented, demand for the labour or services of trafficked persons is markedly lower.

32. Medical advancements in organ transplantation give a chance of surviving to critically ill individuals. However, the dramatic scarcity of human organs, on the one hand, and a failure address the legal responsibility of those in the demand and supply chain encourage unregulated and often enforced organ removals.

          D.     Situations of conflict and humanitarian emergencies

33. The obligations of States parties do not cease in periods of states of emergency resulting from conflict, political events, health crises or natural disasters. Women and girls are in increased situations of vulnerability to gender-based violence including trafficking when they are not able to meet their basic livelihood needs or face economic desperation, which is often exacerbated in these contexts.

34. Trafficking in women and girls is exacerbated during and after conflict and humanitarian emergencies owing to displacement, the breakdown of political, economic and social structures, instability and insufficient governance, including the absence of the rule of law, increased militarism, the availability of small arms, weakening or loosing community and family ties, high incidence of widowhood and the “normalization” of gender-based violence, including conflict-related sexual violence, as an aggravating factor of pre-existing structural gender discrimination against women and girls.

35. Financial flows to certain terrorist groups remains a critical component of trafficking especially sexual exploitation. During humanitarian emergencies governments are often required to divert resources including the use of policing and social services, making it easier for traffickers to hide their operations and rendering victims increasingly invisible as well as making it more difficult for victims to seek protection, services, assistance and support.

           E.     The use of digital technology in trafficking

36. Digital technologies have opened new possibilities to bring positive impact on the society. At the same time, they are posing new security challenges at both individual and state levels. The use of electronic currencies offers tools to hide personal information such as identification of involved parties and location, and allow to make anonymous payments without disclosing the purpose of transaction. All of this facilitates those involved in trafficking. Demand channels through social media, dark web and messaging platforms provide easy access to potential victims thus increasing their vulnerability.

37. The use of digital technology for trafficking poses special problems during global pandemics. Under the COVID-19 State parties face growths of trafficking in cyberspace: an increased recruitment for sexual exploitation on-line, an increased demand for child sexual abuse material and technology facilitated child sex trafficking.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.