[Stop-traffic] Europe/Report: Trafficking in Women: "A Form of Slavery"

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Subject: [Stop-traffic] Europe/Report: Trafficking in Women: "A Form of Slavery"
From: Melanie Orhant (morhant@igc.org)
Date: Tue Nov 14 2000 - 09:16:52 EST


  International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights
Wickenburgg. 14/7, A-1080 Vienna, AUSTRIA
Tel. +43-1-408 88 22
Fax +43-1-408 88 22-50
E-mail: <mailto:office@ihf-hr.org>office@ihf-hr.org
Internet: http://www.ihf-hr.org/

  IHF Report on Trafficking in Women: "A Form of Slavery"

Download report here:
PART 1: <http://www.ihf-hr.org/reports/osce00/tiw_1.pdf>Pages 1-3, 71 KB
PART 2: <http://www.ihf-hr.org/reports/osce00/tiw_2.pdf>Pages i-ii, 51 KB
PART 3: <http://www.ihf-hr.org/reports/osce00/tiw_3.pdf>Pages 1-82, 600 KB

Inadequate or nonexistent laws, chauvinistic mentalities and
vulnerability based on lack of opportunities are contributing factors.

Vienna, 19 June 2000. The International Helsinki Federation for Human
Rights (IHF) today published the 84-page report entitled “A Form of
Slavery: Trafficking in Women in OSCE Member States”, prepared for
the OSCE Supplementary Human Dimension Meeting on Trafficking in
Human Beings. The report deals, among other things, with national
legislation and government policies – or, as is often the case, the
lack of them – against trafficking in women; factors that contribute
to and determine the reality of trafficking; and available support
services. It covers 29 post-communist countries and is based on a
survey carried out within the framework of the IHF “Project to
Investigate the Status of Women's Human Rights” carried out in
cooperation with Helsinki Committees and other local nongovernmental
organizations (NGOs).

Trafficking is the cross-border sale of a person, against his or her
will, for the purpose of sexual or other exploitation; it leaves
victims in a condition of slavery because they are forced into
prostitution or other activities and deprived of the freedom to
change. In numerous OSCE States, prices paid for women in this state
of bondage range from hundreds to thousands of dollars. In many
cases, legal systems and local authorities offer no protection or
redress to these victims. Although no statistics are available,
research by the IHF shows that many thousands of women live under
such circumstances.

“Trafficking in women is a new terminology for an old practice that
most often represents a form of slavery,” said Renate Weber, head of
the IHF women’s rights project. “Intergovernmental institutions, and
most of their member states, are embarrassed and concerned that it is
one of the world’s most profitable businesses decades after respect
for human dignity was declared one of the main objectives of the
United Nations.”

Some states consider trafficking in women as simply a benign or more
aggressive form of prostitution, thus disregarding the nature of the
problem and the threat it represents. But despite international
instruments aimed at stopping trafficking in human beings, numerous
states have not taken appropriate measures to deal with the problem.
Trafficking in women is not only an intolerable practice that
deprives individuals of their freedom, but it also degrades all the
countries of origin, transit and destination. It is a major factor in
increasing irregular and illegal migration, and is connected to
international organized crime, money laundering and other forms of

The main factors that lead women to fall victim to trafficking
include: poverty, unemployment, weakening social security networks
following the fall of communism, the decline of traditional family
life, and hopes for better work and a better life abroad.

The principal recruiting methods include promises of marriage,
well-paid jobs and better living conditions, but many women become
victims through physical and psychological violence or pressure by
criminal groups that keep the victims in bondage abroad, removing
their passports and other documents. In some cases, corrupt policemen
and other authorities facilitate this process.

Some examples from the Report:

Because of its geographical location, Albania is a country of origin,
transit and destination. Criminal groups, comprised of Albanian and
foreign criminals, often traffick Albanian girls into Greece or
Italy. At the same time, Albania is used as a transit country for
women transported from other countries such as Moldova and Bulgaria
to Italy or East European countries.

As in many other countries under review, trafficking in women in
Bulgaria is not prosecuted as a separate offence in the Criminal Code
(1968) and the law does not define it as a special offence. This
means that there is still no legal concept of the phenomenon of
trafficking in women and its high social peril. According to a
1999/2000 survey, the main factors contributing to trafficking are
the lack of choices in life for young women and the marginalisation
of women as a social group. For these reasons, 32 percent of the
respondents expressed a desire and intention to look for a job abroad.

In Greece, the people involved in trafficking in women belong to the
lower socio-economic class and their income usually comes solely or
mainly from this form of crime. Police officers are often bribed to
“look the other way” or even participate more actively. Most of the
perpetrators are Greek men who cooperate with foreigners, while most
of the victims are foreign women. The offender and the victim often
have a close personal relationship. As a rule, very few cases reach
the courts: victims do not prosecute either because they are afraid
or because they have no residence documents.

In Kazakhstan, little chance for employment (for every 100 unemployed
men there are over 160 unemployed women), low salaries (U.S.$15 a
month) for those who have a job, and the gradual elimination of
social protection services previously offered by the state are the
main factors that lead women to participate in migration more
actively and, at the same time, become victim of trafficking.

In Uzbekistan, trafficking in and violence against women do not
officially exist and have thus not even been recognized as problems.
But hundreds of girls and young women are sent abroad illegally
(officially as tourists). They are promised employment as nannies,
governesses, tutors, etc., but most of them are forced into
prostitution instead. No one bothers to notify law enforcement bodies
or public organizations and no judicial proceedings are initiated.

Kosovo mainly receives trafficked women, but it is also apparently a
transit zone. Informants claim that women refugees have been
kidnapped from refugee camps, especially on the Albanian side of the
border. The presence of a large international community of sex
purchasers contributes to the increase in the number of
establishments that are involved in trafficking women and girls into
forced prostitution.

In Latvia, serious work against trafficking has been hampered by the
inadequate response of law enforcement agencies over the last few
years. Despite a highly debated pedophile scandal, no funding for a
special police that would deal with prostitution and trafficking in
women was allocated in the 2000 national budget. Some governmental
and non-governmental sources attributed it to a lack of understanding
among MPs about the serious nature of trafficking. At the end of
March, a decision was made in Parliament to support the
re-establishment of the Vice Squad and the creation of 21 police
officer posts to start working from June or July 2000 on trafficking

The IHF will hold a Press Conference on Monday June 19, 2000 at 11:15
am at the Mittlere Lounge, Hofburg. The report will be presented at
the conference.

The Report is available from the IHF Secretariat and here on our website:
PART 1: <http://www.ihf-hr.org/reports/osce00/tiw_1.pdf>Pages 1-3, 71 KB
PART 2: <http://www.ihf-hr.org/reports/osce00/tiw_2.pdf>Pages i-ii, 51 KB
PART 3: <http://www.ihf-hr.org/reports/osce00/tiw_3.pdf>Pages 1-82, 579 KB

For more information:
Aaron Rhodes, Executive Director. +43-1-408-8822; +43-676-635-6612 (mobile);
Renate Weber, Women’s Project Director: +40-1-312 7052; +40-92-340
600 (mobile);
Nicole Watson, IHF Staff: +43-1-408-8822

© <mailto:IHF%3coffice@ihf-hr.org%3e>International Helsinki
Federation - This page was last revised June 20, 2000

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Melanie Orhant
Stop-Traffic Moderator

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