Subject: ALERT ON WORLD MARCH AND 1949 CONVENTION
From: Melanie Orhant (email@example.com)
Date: Mon Mar 06 2000 - 11:25:40 EST
We ask you to read our following statement very carefully concerning the
March for Women. Many organisations are already participating in the World
March, without realising the implications of demand V-6 on increased
implementation of the 1949 Convention. GAATW does not support this demand
will have a negative disempowering impact on trafficked women and sex
by conflating trafficking with prostitution and adopting an ambiguous crime
control approach to prostitution.
GAATW asks those organisations already involved in the World March, not to
withdraw from the March but to withdraw support from Demand V-6.
It is also very important for us to make more organisations aware of Demand
and its implications. We ask everyone to please circulate this statement
through their networks and as many NGOs you know who could possibly become a
part of this campaign. If you can assist us by forwarding this statement to
participating organisations of the World March in your country/region (list
available from <http://www.ffq.qc.ca>), it would be a great help (there are
3400 organisations in total!). If you are able to help us, please contact
After some time, GAATW will start a petition as part of a longer lasting
campaign against the 1949 Convention.
Thank you for your attention.
WORLD MARCH 2000: MARCH WITH EYES WIDE OPEN
WITHDRAW SUPPORT ON REGARDING 1949 CONVENTION: say NO to DEMAND V-6!!
This year an action project is being organised called the World March for
Women. It is being organised by a Canadian group La Federation Femmes de
<<http://www.ffq.qc.ca/>http://www.ffq.qc.ca>. It involves a co-ordinated
of national, regional and international actions by women's groups around the
world, starting on March 8th (International Women's Day) and culminating in
world rally on October 17th 2000. The focus of the action is on poverty and
violence against women.
The Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women (GAATW) supports the idea of a
world march for women, and believes it is an important and timely event to
the international solidarity of women and demand recognition and action on
women's human rights. However, GAATW is concerned about one of the demands,
Demand V-6 being made regarding the issue of trafficking in women:
V-6. That mechanisms be established to implement the 1949 Convention for the
Suppression of Traffic in Persons and of the Exploitation of Prostitution of
Other, taking into account recent relevant documents such as the two
resolutions of the UN General Assembly (1996) concerning trafficking in
and girls and violence against migrant women.
As an NGO that works specifically on trafficking, GAATW has studied the 1949
Convention on Trafficking extensively. We are highly critical of this
and our criticism stems from the nature of the Convention itself, its lack
definition of trafficking, its failure to distinguish trafficking from
prostitution and its failure in recognizing women's agency. Where laws and
policies have been enacted in accordance with the 1949 Convention, they have
had a negative impact on trafficked women and women in the sex industry. For
these reasons, GAATW does not support any measures to improve the
implementation of the 1949 Convention. We feel increased implementation will
have the following effects.
1) Trafficking will remain tied to prostitution.
Persons who are trafficked for many purposes outside of prostitution, such
domestic work, forced marriage or sweatshop labour, will not be dealt with
all under the 1949 Convention.
2) The reality of women in prostitution will not be addressed.
The 1949 Convention considers prostitution an 'evil'; incompatible with the
dignity and worth of the human person and morally unacceptable even with the
women's consent. Such an approach is not applicable to the current
women working in the sex industry. Particularly now, in times of
economic hardship and the feminisation of poverty, for many women the
is a daily struggle for survival of themselves and their families. In this
context, sex work has become a viable means of earning income, especially
poorer women from developing countries who do not have the same
opportunities for employment as men in their home countries or abroad.
3) A toleration and crime control approach to prostitution will continue.
has a negative disempowering impact on
a) sex workers
The 1949 Convention focuses on the punishment of third parties: procurers,
persons exploiting prostitution and brothel owners, regardless of the
age or consent. Prostitution per se is not a crime under the 1949
and women working in prostitution are not to be criminalised. This is
and hypocritical, because the reality is that the laws and measures which
follow from the 1949 Convention do target women in the sex industry.
Coupled with this, the nature of sex work is such that third parties are
required by sex workers for their own protection; personal and economic
security. In sex work, not all third parties exploit and abuse women,
trafficking the third party/ies are always exploitative. The
such third parties without distinguishing trafficking from prostitution is
damaging and dangerous for women in the sex industry.
b) women trafficked into prostitution
In any case, criminalisation of prostitution does not in reality abolish the
sex industry or stop the trafficking of women into prostitution. Where the
position is implemented, the sex industry is driven underground, so
women and sex workers are in an even more vulnerable position. They are more
likely to suffer from bad working conditions, and be open to violence and
without avenues of recourse. Under such circumstances, the problem of
trafficking of women into prostitution continues to occur and in fact often
becomes even more widespread.
4) Subsequent resolutions will not be "taken into account".
The two resolutions Demand V-6 refers to are A/RES/51/65 on violence against
women migrant workers and A/RES/51/66 on traffic in women and girls. In
to A/RES/51/66 it is unlikely to be 'taken into account' as called for by
World March because the subject matter and purpose of the 1949 Convention
the Resolution are very different. The 1949 treaty only deals with
into the sex industry, and it's aim was to stop the movement of women within
and across borders into prostitution, it is anti-migration of women. The
Resolution is pro-migration, in its call for human rights protection in
to migrant workers. It seems infeasible for a resolution of such a different
standpoint to the 1949 Convention to be incorporated into the treaty.
A/RES/51/66 considers trafficking largely (but not exclusively) in the
of prostitution. If this resolution is implemented through the 1949
on Trafficking then the protections proposed will only apply to women
trafficked for prostitution.
It is true that one of the more problematic factors of the 1949 Convention
the lack of protection it affords to victims of trafficking. The subsequent
resolutions make recommendations to curb this effect, yet it is GAATW's
that if such resolutions are framed in the context of 1949 they will really
of very limited value.
WHAT CAN WE DO ABOUT IT?
Part of the World March campaign is a signatory campaign in support of the
demands of the World March for Women. GAATW calls for people supporting the
World March or signing the campaign TO WITHDRAW SUPPORT ON DEMAND V-6 IN
REGARD TO THE 1949 CONVENTION.
GAATW proposes a new instrument on trafficking grounded in human rights
protection for trafficked persons be recommended instead of the 1949
In this regard, GAATW in collaboration with International Human Rights Law
Group (USA) and Foundation Against Trafficking in Women (Netherlands) has
developed the Human Rights Standards for the Treatment of Trafficked
be used as a guideline for governmental action on the treatment of
More information on this document and the 1949 Convention can be obtained
GAATW: 191 Sivalai Condominium, Itsaraphap Rd, Soi 33, Bangkok 10600
Telephone (662) 864 1427-8, Fax (662) 864 1637 E-mail:
The Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women
The International Coordination Office,
P.O.Box 36 Bangkok Noi Post Office,
Bangkok 10700 THAILAND.
Tel: (66-2) 864-1427/8
Fax: (66-2) 864-1637
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