Global Fund for Women's Position on Trafficking and Sex Work

Human trafficking for sex work, domestic work, and labor exploitation is rising at disturbing rates. Poor economic conditions and widespread poverty can leave families desperate for work; making women and girls vulnerable to trafficking as they seek employment. Trafficking is an issue that touches many aspects of human rights including gender-based violence, girls’ access to education and safe, affordable health care.

We recognize that the forces that push or pull women into various exploitative personal and labor relations are complex and nuanced.  Because of this, the most effective way to address trafficking is to use a holistic approach.  Therefore our grants support initiatives led by women who are making decisions based on their lived reality. This means women are addressing the underlying gender, economic, social and political inequalities that perpetuate the violence and exploitation women and girls experience.

The Reality

In most parts of the world, women are forced to make choices amid unequal economic systems and patriarchal political and cultural realities that ignore women's agency, dignity and equality. We are particularly concerned about the impact of globalization, which has resulted in mass scale migration of women to work in unregulated and unprotected labor sectors such as agriculture, domestic work and prostitution.

We oppose the use of all forms of coercion, deceit and violence that result in the trafficking of women as articulated in the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, supplementary to the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (the Crime Convention), 2000.

We oppose the growing militarization of societies that creates and maintains conditions in which women and girls are further devalued and made vulnerable to increased violence and coercion.

Standing With Women

We strive to hear the voices of women in prostitution; we support their demands to be recognized as workers in the sex industry, with full labor rights and protections, full access to health care and benefits, and equal treatment under the law. We oppose the criminalization and stigmatization of sex work because it makes sex workers more vulnerable to disease, exploitation, violence and fear.

We support the struggles of women migrant workers in unregulated and unprotected labor sectors to claim full labor rights and protections, full access to health care, and benefits and equal treatment under the law.

In conclusion, we believe that it is only through strengthening the overall economic, social and political position of women in every society, and by ensuring that women have voice and agency in all societies, that women's human rights can be guaranteed and protected.

Ending Trafficking

Through advocacy and direct grants, we support organizations led by trafficking survivors or those working with women and girls who have been trafficked. These groups understand the complexity of trafficking, not just in terms of the root causes – poverty, lack of opportunities for employment locally, unequal access to education, women’s low social and political status, and armed conflicts – but in terms of the range of unique experiences of trafficked women and the need to fully ensure their agency and human rights. By challenging the inequalities facing women, we threaten the very conditions that allow trafficking to thrive.

Our grantee partners provide comprehensive, innovative programs, including:

  • Public education and information for women and girls in communities that are vulnerable to trafficking, particularly rural communities.
  • Individual skills building and training for women seeking employment in countries and communities with a high risk of trafficking.
  • Advocacy among government officials for stronger prosecution of trafficking rings.
  • Research, documentation, and publishing of information on trafficking statistics
  • Providing health care and information on reproductive health and HIV/AIDS that address the needs of women and girls who have been trafficked and/or experienced sexual abuse.
  • Offering psychological counseling, legal services, education, and vocational training for trafficked women and thier children.

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