Human Trafficking and Sexual Slavery of Women and Children

2 August 2004

The 28th Triennial Congress of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, meeting 2–8 August 2004 in Gothenburg, Sweden

Trafficking in women is inseparably linked with the various conflicts around the world. Women and children are victims of atrocities and injustice, both during and after war. Armed forces ñ including peacekeeping troops- perpetuate and generate prostitution and trafficking in women and children. They buy sex, frequent brothels and there are also examples of those who are involved as ‘backers’, or ‘moneymen’ in the trafficking in women. When killing becomes legitimate, it also becomes legitimate to rape or buy and sell human bodies. In other words, military personnel have control both economically and psychologically. When the conflict is finished and the soldiers have returned home, the prostitutes are often trafficked to other countries.

2. Trafficking in women and children is violence and a violation of their human rights. There is a direct connection between trafficking in women for sexual misuse, the social acceptance of buying sexual ‘services’, and the aggressive marketing of the female body through pornography.

3. Trafficking in women for misuse in prostitution has grown by a horrifying degree during the last few years. The international mafia system behind the trafficking in women earns enormous sums of money through this criminal activity. This enormous network, which profits through trafficking in human beings, survives only because there is a willing, paying market in the receiving countries.

4. Violence against women in war areas has, according to UNDP, reached epidemic heights. The common denominator for the 90ís conflicts from East Timor to Sierra Leone, Bosnia, and Rwanda has been the comprehensive sexual misuse, forced pregnancy as a tool in ethnic genocide, kidnapping, intentional infection with HIV/AIDS and trafficking in women and children.

5. Some figures for consideration:

-Between 1995 and 2000 the global trafficking in women increased by 50%.

-Every year about two million women are transported over borders to a life in prostitution and they bring in between five and seven billion dollars to middlemen.

(Source: UNDP, UNIFEM)

6. Much must be done if this totally patriarchal pattern is to change.

We call upon sections to:

a) Intensify the cultural struggle concerned with changing the attitude that one can buy admission to the bodies of other human beings.

b) Fund research concerning the extent of buying sex by soldiers and others stationed outside their home country (including NGO representatives in foreign countries) and their role in trafficking in women.

c) Encourage legislative work against prostitution and trafficking in human beings- including the criminalization of customers of prostitutes.

d) Press for offers of treatment for women and children who have been victims of sexual misuse.

e) Ask for support to organizations who help the prostitutes to get out of prostitution.

f) Advocate for residence permission and help for women who have been trafficked.