Montana Model United Nations 2001
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Commission on the Status of Women


Trafficking of Women

The trafficking of human beings, specifically women, is a global problem. In the past decade, it has increased, taken new forms, and it is continuing to grow. The Coalition Against Trafficking in Women defined trafficking as the “transport within or across boarders, purchase, sale, transfer, receipt, or harboring of a person for the purpose of prostitution, exploiting a marriage, or exploiting a person.” There are a number of reasons for the growth of this terrible problem. The growth of the global sex industry contributes to this problem. Also, the movement of people, capital, and business is a factor. The outflow of women for trafficking purposes mainly comes from countries with limited employment opportunities for women and economic marginalization of women. Increased wealth differentials within and between nation states, and the increased involvement and growth of organized crime have also contributed. The feminization of poverty globally has created cause for migration for many women, thus becoming yet another factor to this growing problem.

There are commonly four types of recruitment of women for this industry. Some women are often kidnapped and brought illegally across boarders. Some are deceived by promises of legitimate jobs in other places, such as waitressing, modeling, or babysitting, and placed into situations where they must engage in illegal acts despite the false promises upon arrival. Others are told half-truths; that they would work in fields such as entertainment, dancing, or even stripping. The final group is told that they were to become prostitutes, but they agree with the hope of migration. Once they arrive in the new countries, their identity papers are seized, and they are forced into sweat shop labor, brothels, farm labor camps, or private homes.

Trafficking does not always happen by force, but oftentimes, by other factors. Coercion, debt bondage, abuse of authority, threats, and deceptions are all common techniques used by traffickers. Punishments for the trafficking of persons rarely exceed punishments for the trafficking of drugs in many countries. Strict boarder patrols seem to only create a larger market for fraudulent documents. Often, those who are trafficked are treated as criminals and detained and deported like illegal immigrants. That is the extent of investigation in many countries. Trafficked individuals are victims in every sense, and need to be treated as such.

In 1997, the United Nations passed a resolution which called for more concentrated and sustained action internationally and new areas of concern regarding trafficking. These areas of concern included vulnerability of women living in economies of transition, new technology for prostitution, child pornography, sex tourism, lack of systematic data collection on trafficking routes and methods, and the trafficking of women as brides. The U.S. State Department, in the first in what is to be a series of reports on the trafficking problem, found that many countries are failing to make significant efforts to fight human trafficking within their boarders. The criteria for the study included whether trafficking was deemed a criminal offense; the seriousness with which it was investigated; the degree of cooperation with other governments engaged in investigating or prosecuting traffickers; and the severity of punishments accorded to traffickers. Other countries were found to have faults in the anti-trafficking records.

The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) released a report in the year 2000 that an estimated two million people cross national boarders each year for what appears to be legitimate work, but turn out to be a virtual form of slavery or indentured servitude. They are used as prostitutes and sweatshop or hard laborers.

A helpful website in researching this topic is the homepage for the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women. It includes articles and reports form specific nations, and may be a good resource to find your nation’s policies. Other resources are magazine articles and newsletters. Global Information Network publishes newsletters that provide information on trafficking. The Asian Women’s Human Rights Council and LOLApress also publish journals are also good resources in research.

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