Subject: Dhaka Declaration II
From: Donna M. Hughes (email@example.com)
Date: Tue Feb 09 1999 - 21:03:19 EST
DHAKA DECLARATION II - January 29, 1999
Organizing Against Sexual Exploitation Regionally Globally
The Coalition Against Trafficking in Women
During the last couple of decades, prostitution and sex trafficking have
reached an alarming magnitude the world over. Each year around 5,000 to
6,000 Nepali women and children, some as young as 9, are trafficked across
the border into India. There are around 200,000 Bangladeshi women and girls
in sex bondage in Pakistan. It is estimated that Thailand has around 2
million women and children in prostitution. About 100,000 Filipina women
and girls are annually trafficked as "entertainers" into Japan's booming
sex industry. So too, prostitution and sex trafficking have acquired new
and pernicious forms.
>From January 26-29, 1999, the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women,
Bangladesh, convened a global conference of around 400 participants from
the continents of Asia, Africa, Europe, Latin America, and North America to
address these growing concerns. Entitled "Organizing Against Sexual
Exploitation Regionally and Globally." the central objectives of the
conference were to forge a common understanding on prostitution and
trafficking and the sexual exploitation of women and children; and to
develop region-specific and common strategies.
Prostitution and sex trafficking are not universal and inevitable aspects
of the human condition. They are a violation of a woman's human rights and
forms of violence against women. There are those, however, who recast the
traditional view that prostitution is the oldest profession within a new
mold of the inevitability of prostitution as women's work. They would urge
us to accept prostitution and sex trafficking as realities of women's lives
caused by intensifying female powerlessness and the growing feminization of
poverty. They posit a distinction between "forced" and "free" prostitution,
arguing that sex trafficking and "forced" prostitution be penalized by
special trafficking laws. They further argue that "free" prostitution,
including third party managers running prostitution businesses, also known
as pimps, procurers, and brothel keepers, be subject to the same labor laws
as any other businesses. This validation of prostitution as an economic
sector capitulates to women's inequality and to violence against women.
We call for the decriminalization of women in prostitution, not as workers,
but as victims and survivors of sexual exploitation. However, to
decriminalize the institution of prostitution and to validate prostitution
as work is to indemnify pimps, recruiters, buyers of women, and brothel
keepers who confine women in conditions of bondage and sexual servitude. To
do so is to accept that a certain class of women are destined to be used
for profit and male consumption and their bodies commodified for male
Legitimating prostitution as work only awards legal protection to pimps and
procurers. According them a respectability as third party businesses, it
provides them with a marketing environment conducive to the violation and
commodification of women's bodies, and gives them legal impunity and
invisibility as exploiters. In countries that have legalized and regulated
prostitution as work, even larger numbers of women are lured into the sex
industry from both foreign trafficking and local markets.
Furthermore, so-called free prostitution is a myth because the choices of
women existing in conditions of sex trafficking and prostitution are
severely circumscribed, if such choices exist at all. Rather than speak
about women's consent to prostitution and women's right to engage in
prostitution, we should emphasize a woman's compliance with the limited
options available to them. Women enter prostitution as a result of
circumstances ranging from overt force and deception to economic
deprivation and sexual abuse,
The challenge of governments today is to recognize that prostitution is a
massive and growing industry while not reifying prostitution as a job. The
challenge of governments today is to provide rights and protections to
women in conditions of sex trafficking and prostitution while acknowledging
that prostitution violates women's rights and human dignity. The challenge
of governments today is to penalize the growing numbers of sex exploiters,
pimps, recruiters, buyers, brothel keepers, while not penalizing the women
who find themselves in conditions of sex trafficking and prostitution.
We therefore recommend that women in conditions of sex trafficking and
prostitution be accorded the following rights:
o That governments protect and promote women's rights while they are
in conditions of sex trafficking and prostitution, and at the same time
eliminate the causes of prostitution.
o That governments reject any policy that legitimizes sex trafficking or
prostitution or that legalizes or regulates prostitution in any way
including as a profession, occupation, entertainment, or as an economic
o That governments decriminalize the women in conditions of sex
and prostitution, at the same time that they penalize the pimps, procurers
and promoters of prostitution, as well as those who buy women for sexual
acts (a.k.a johns or customers).
o That governments monitor and prevent the growing trafficking in
for adoption, slave-like labor and organ extraction.
o That governments adopt legislative measures to prohibit sex tourism
to penalize those who organize and advertise tourism for the purpose of
sexual exploitation as practices of the procuring and promotion of
prostitution. Such measures shall be adopted and implemented in both
countries from which the sex tourists come and the countries to which they go.
· That governments use appropriate publicity to warn of prosecution for sex
o That governments prohibit persons or enterprises from promoting,
profiting from, or engaging in any business involving the matching of women
in marriage to foreign nationals, as in mail order bride selling and
o That governments take responsibility to prevent the sexual
of women and children by the military whether at home or abroad.
o That governments co-operate to stop the use of the Internet for sexual
exploitation and trafficking of women.
o That women in conditions of sex trafficking and prostitution have the
right to sexual integrity and sexual autonomy and therefore can sue for
harm and civil remedies for sexual exploitation, sexual harassment, assault
o That consent of the woman procured for sex trafficking and
not be recognized as a defense for pimps, procurers and buyers, nor as a
rationale for state- sanctioned institutionalization of prostitution as work,
o That socio-cultural practices of temporary marriage, honor or written
contracts shall not be used to justify or defend against any act of sexual
o That women receive fair, sustainable and/or legally mandated
as waitresses, receptionists, dancers, singers, bar-workers, entertainers,
artists, 'GROs" or guest relations officers - but not as "sex workers".
This would reduce the economic pressure to engage in prostitution often
cloaked by these terms.
· That women have the right to keep and control any money they receive.
o That no third parties profit from the earnings of women in
sex trafficking and prostitution.
o That women in prostitution be able to form associations to lessen
conditions of sexual and economic exploitation, while at the same time not
formalizing these groups or collectives as labor unions which
institutionalize prostitution as work.
o That women in conditions of sex trafficking and prostitution be
organize for support services such as child care.
· That governments and non-governmental organizations put resources at
women's disposal such as credit, micro-lending programs, enterprise
training and other needed services.
o That governments and non-governmental organizations provide voluntary
medical care, shelter, voluntary counseling and educational programs for
women who have been harmed by sex trafficking and prostitution.
o That specially trained police officers be responsive to women in
conditions of sex trafficking and prostitution.
o That a woman's prior sexual history, status as an illegal
stateless person shall not be used against her.
o The regulations protect emigrant and immigrant women, both at the
of departure and arrival and while en route.
· That women enjoy freedom of movement.
o That women retain their own passports and travel documents which
be taken from them.
o That trafficked women be provided with refuge, refugee status and
protection and voluntary repatriation whether victims of sex trafficking
have entered a country illegally.
o That governments recognize that there are certain types of work in the
immigration process, such as domestic labor and entertainment, that are
conducive to sexual exploitation and may lead to prostitution.
o That migrant women workers be protected from sexual exploitation and
abuse in the host country and awarded valid written contracts of employment
that are monitored by the appropriate authorities.
o That under no circumstances can governments construe these above
to prevent women from migrating or travelling abroad.
CATW Web site http://www.uri.edu/artsci/wms/hughes/catw
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