News: ASIA: Action sought to tackle trafficking in women

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Subject: News: ASIA: Action sought to tackle trafficking in women
Date: Tue Feb 02 1999 - 13:34:07 EST

      Action sought to tackle trafficking in women

      WITH trafficking in women turning worse because of the
      Asian economic meltdown, government and non-government
      organisations as well as international agencies are
      seeking joint action to tackle the problem.

      Participants of a two-day regional conference on
      trafficking in women agreed Tuesday on the need for
      multilateral and multidisciplinary action and for
      assistance to the women who should be treated as
      victims and not illegal immigrants.

      According to Mizuho Matsuda, director of the Asian
      Women's Fund, which is one of the organisers, it is
      the first time authorities and social workers from the
      three sectors are meeting and trying to work out a
      cooperation plan to combat this type of trafficking.

      She hoped the meeting would come up with a code of
      conduct or measures on protection, prevention and
      repatriation of women. She cited a case when Japanese
      workers could not assist rescued women who were taken
      from Thailand to a neighbouring country. The women
      then fled to Japan, but without proper documents and
      recognition from any country, they were considered

      Senator Saisuree Chutikul voiced a similar call in her
      opening statement, saying she hoped the conference
      would come up with ''practical suggestions'' to
      prevent, protect or repatriate such women.

      In her presentation, Siriporn Skrobanek, international
      coordinator of the Global Alliance Against Women,
      pointed out the magnitude and changing trend of the
      problem. She said women are being recruited to work
      overseas under false pretenses and most end up being
      forced into prostitution.

      She said trafficking and prostitution are
      inter-related, but not of the same issue, and urged
      the redefinition of trafficking in women, saying that
      the victims were transported across the border not
      just for the purpose of prostitution.

      ''A major concern is not fighting against migration
      (legal or illegal) nor prostitution per se. Focus must
      be on stopping the abusive recruitment and abusive
      practices against women in private and public
      domains,'' she said.

      Siriporn said measures that had been formulated in
      regional and international fora ended up in more state
      control than promoting the basic rights of affected
      women. She said tightened border crossings and
      restrictions on women's freedom of movement only made
      ''women depend more on the abusive recruiters and

      Siriporn's Global Alliance has been calling for the
      creation of an international instrument to combat
      trafficking networks and standard rules for the
      humanitarian treatment of trafficked women.

      The Nation

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