Statement on the 2nd Annual Report of the Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights Aspects of Victims of Trafficking, Sigma Huda

Various September 12, 2006 Geneva, Switzerland


The 125 NGOs and groups signing this statement wish to commend the Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights Aspects of Victims of Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, Sigma Huda, on her second annual thematic report (E/CN.4/2006/62). Among the signers of this statement are organizations that provide services to victims of trafficking and sexual exploitation, or who themselves are survivors of trafficking and prostitution and who represent women who have been victims/survivors. 

We have awaited the report of the Special Rapporteur with great expectations, and we are especially appreciative of the clarity and the courage with which she has analyzed the situation of women and children who have been trafficked into the sex industry. We commend the Special Rapporteur?s report especially for the following insights and conclusions.

1. The report of the Special Rapporteur on Trafficking has targeted the most invisible aspect of the trafficking chain, which is the demand. 

Prompted by Article 9.5 of the Palermo Protocol that encourages States Parties ?to adopt or strengthen measures?to discourage the demand that fosters all forms of exploitation of persons, especially women and children that leads to trafficking,? the Special Rapporteur has written a rich report addressing key aspects of the demand. In addressing the demand, she has reminded us that the 3 pillars supporting trafficking are the buyers, the bought and the business, and that all three need to be emphasized in considering the human rights aspects of victims of trafficking.

2. The Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights Aspect of Trafficking is the first special rapporteur who has devoted a broad and comprehensive report to trafficking and its link to prostitution and to the demand for sexual exploitation. 

The 2006 report of the Special Rapporteur on Trafficking develops the standards enshrined in the Palermo Protocol on Trafficking, Article 6 of the Convention to Eliminate Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), and the 1949 Convention for the Suppression of the Traffic in Persons and of the Exploitation of Others. Each of these treaties underlines that trafficking and sexual exploitation are intrinsically connected. The Palermo Protocol emphasizes ?a comprehensive international approach in the countries of origin, transit and destination that includes measure to prevent such trafficking?? The Special Rapporteur?s report underlines the responsibility of demand countries, or countries of destination, to discourage the demand -- including by legislative means ? that promotes trafficking. 

3. The Special Rapporteur?s report addresses a key human rights aspect of protection for victims of trafficking, which is that the burden of proof should not be on the victim to prove she was forced.

The Special Rapporteur?s report underscores that the definition of trafficking in the Palermo Protocol helps insure that all victims of trafficking, not only those who can prove force, will be protected. Art. 3b of the definition of trafficking in the Palermo Protocol states that trafficking can occur with or without the consent of the victim if any of the means in Art. 3a, such as force, deception, or abuse of a person?s vulnerability have been used to traffic. The Special Rapporteur?s 2006 report emphasizes that the consent of the victim cannot be used as a defense for traffickers. 

Since the definition of trafficking was a contentious debate during the ad hoc committee?s two year deliberations in drafting what finally came to be called the Palermo Protocol, some groups that opposed the inclusion of Art. 3b in the definition have omitted it completely from their discourse, and this omission seems to have gained currency in subsequent literature. The Special Rapporteur?s discussion of the definition of trafficking puts the entire definition of the Palermo Protocol back into focus. 

4. The Special Rapporteur?s report draws attention to the fact that the largest numbers of victims of trafficking are subjected to trafficking for sexual exploitation.

The report of the Special Rapporteur on Trafficking addresses the primary reason for which women and children are trafficked, i.e., for prostitution or other forms of sexual exploitation. This focus fulfills the Special Rapporteur?s mandate, which mentions that the majority of victims are women and girls trafficked for sexual exploitation. Indeed, those who work with women and girls trafficked for domestic labor report that a large number of them have been sexually exploited as well. 

In her next report, we understand that the Special Rapporteur will consider trafficking for forced marriage, which is a particular concern in many Asian and Middle Eastern communities with which the Special Rapporteur is quite familiar. 

5. The Special Rapporteur?s title and mandate calls attention to the connections between the sexual exploitation of women and children.

The 2006 report was initially undertaken with the Special Rapporteur on the Sale of Children. Subsequently the two rapporteurs issued separate reports. 

In accord with her title, which is the Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights Aspects of Victims of Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, Sigma Huda has signaled that the connections between the sexual exploitation of women and children are significant, especially because large numbers of women exploited in the sex industry are forced or induced into it as children. On the day they reach legal maturity, the prostitution they have experienced does not become a magical choice.

6. The Special Rapporteur on Trafficking sent out a widely distributed questionnaire on the demand before writing her report. 

We note that this is an infrequent practice among special rapporteurs that allowed for this report to be done in a very democratic way.

7. The visits to various countries that the Special Rapporteur has made and the conferences she has participated in represent varied geographical locations and diverse philosophical and political perspectives on the subject of trafficking.

One of the first visits of Sigma Huda, the Special Rapporteur on Trafficking, was to the Global Alliance Against Trafficking in Women (GAATW) conference in Bangkok in December, 2004. Since then she has traveled to an event in Brussels at the European Parliament in October, 2005 organized by the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women (CATW) and the European Women?s Lobby (EWL) with survivors of prostitution and trafficking. In between, she has made official visits to Bosnia and Herzegovina, Lebanon; and participated in many NGO and UN conferences, trainings and meetings in Canada, China, Indonesia, Japan, Switzerland, Tunisia, the United States and the UK. This readiness to be informed by various geographical and philosophical perspectives on the links between prostitution and trafficking is especially to be commended.


We especially commend the willingness of the Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights Aspects of Trafficking to draw conclusions from the many visits she has made and the differing positions she has encountered on the relationship between prostitution and trafficking. It is not the role of the Special Rapporteur merely to summarize and list the various perspectives she encounters in her work. No special rapporteur would be able to offer recommendations if she limited herself to simply chronicling information collected during her visits. 

We again congratulate the Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights Aspects of the Victims of Trafficking. With great clarity, she has addressed the issue of demand and placed it at the centre of a human rights analysis of trafficking. She has elucidated the links between trafficking and prostitution. And she has written her report within the framework of gender equality and with guidance from the three human rights conventions that address trafficking -- the 1949 Convention, CEDAW, and the Convention on the Rights of the Child -- as well as the Palermo Protocol. All of us are grateful for and enlightened by her contribution.

Signing Organizations:

Albania Group of Women Journalists, Albania
Albergue para Nineas y Mujeres Sobrevivientas de la Explotacion Sexual Comercial, Chile
Alliance of Progressive Labor, the Philippines
Angel Coalition, Russia
Apne Aap, India
Asociacion de Mujeres Pilar Miro, Spain
Asociacion de Mujeres Valdes Siglo XXI, Spain
Association Business Professional Women Club Toulon, France
Association for Women in Contemporary Society, Moldova
Association Genre et Culture, France
Association Mix-Cite 45, France
Associazione IROKO, Italy
Bagong Kamalayan, the Philippines
Breaking Free (An Afro-Centric NGO founded by survivors of prostitution to serve women in prostitution), United States
Briet, Iceland
Brigidine Congregation of Religious Sisters, Australia, Ireland and the United Kingdom
BUKLOD (survivors of prostitution and trafficking), the Philippines
Captive Daughters, United States
Canadian Association of Sexual Assault Centers, Canada
Center for Foreign Citizens and Migrant Rights and Security, Republic of Georgia
Center for Human Rights of Women ?Zelkova,? Korea
Center for Women?s Human Rights, Korea
Center for Wuncheon Women?s Human Rights, Korea
Center ?Salim?(Support Center for Women Trafficked and Prostituted), Korea
Centro Amar, Peru
Centro de la Mujer Flora Tristan, Peru
Cheonan Women Actual Counseling Center, Korea
Chung Buk Trafficking Counseling Center ?Nul Bom,? Korea
Churches Alert to Sex Trafficking Across Europe (Chaste), United Kingdom
Coalition Against Trafficking in Women (CATW Africa, Asia-Pacific, Australia, Europe, and Latin America)
Collectives des luttes pour l'abolition de la prostitution (CLAP), Canada
Comision Justicia y Paz, Bolivia
Comision para la Investigacion de Malos Tratos a Mujeres, Spain
Concordio Latinoamericano por los Derechos de las Mujeres, Costa Rica
Congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd, United States
Congregation of Sisters of St. Agnes, United States
Coordination Francaise du Lobby Europeen des Femmes, France
Coordination Lesbienne en France, France
Counseling Center for Victims of Prostitution, UNNINE, Korea
Daegu Women?s Association, Center for Women?s Human Rights, Korea
Dasi Hamge SimTeo, Korea
Defensoras Populares, Mexico
Development Action for Women Network (DAWN), the Philippines
Ebgan, Cordillera, the Philippines
E-loom (The World Free from Prostitution), Korea
Encore Feministes, France (2717 members in 41 countries)
Equality Now, United States
European Council of WIZO Federations (E.C.W.F.), EU
Federaci?n de Asociaciones de Mujeres Separadas y Divorciadas, Spain
FOKUS (Forum for Women and Development), Norway
Fondation Scelles, France
Forum Femmes Mediterranee de Marseille, France
Fundacion del Buen Pastor, Colombia
Fundacion Quimera, Ecuador
G-Wave (Gender Watch Against Violence and Exploitation), the Philippines
Gil Jab E Ui Jip, Korea
Good Shepherd Friends, Germany
Good Shepherd Social Justice Network, Australia and New Zealand
Icelandic Feminist Organization, Iceland
IMA Foundation, the Philippines
Inter-African Committee on Traditional Practices (IAC), Africa and Switzerland
Jeju Association for Women?s Rights, Korea
Kanlungan Center for Migrant Workers, the Philippines
Kvennaathvarfio (the Women?s Shelter), Iceland
Kvennaraogjofin (the Women?s Counseling Organization), Iceland
Kvenfelagasambandio (Federation of Icelandic Women?s Societies), Iceland
Kvinnefronten (the Women?s Front), Norway
Lawag Bubai (Survivors of Trafficking and Prostitution), the Philippines
L?Espace Simone de Beauvoir, France
Lobby de Dones de Catalunya, Spain
Main House, Korea
Marcha Mundial de Mujeres, Peru
Masan YMCA Field Counseling Center, Korea
MASIE, an organization founded by survivors of prostitution, United States
Medicos del Mundo (Doctors of the World), Spain
MiraMed Institute, Russia and the United States
Mix-Cite 45, France
Mouvement Jeunes Femmes, France
Mouvement pour l?Abolition de la Prostitution et de law Pornographie (MAPP), France
Mujeres de Negro Andalucia, Spain
Mujeres Trabajando, Argentina
Municipality of Madrid, Spain
Norwegian Association for Women?s Rights, Norway
Paju Center for Women?s Human Rights, Korea
Plataforma 8 de marzo de Sevilla, Spain
Plataforma Andaluza de Apoyo al Lobby Europeo de las Mujeres, Spain
Plataforma Catalana de Suport al Lobby Europeu de Dones, Spain
Plataforma Estatal de Organizaciones de Mujeres por la Abolicion de la Prostitution, Spain
Prostitution Research and Education, United States
Prostitution Victims? House, Incheon Women?s Hotline, Korea
Red de Jovenes por al Abolicion de la Prostitucion, Mexico
Red Latinoamericana de Maestras y Maestros contra la Explotacion Sexual Comercial, Latin America and the Caribbean
Red Latinoamericana de Periodistas contra la Trata y la Explotacion Sexual, Latin America and the Caribbean
Red Mexicana contra la Violencia y Discriminacion de Genero, Mexico
Reden, Denmark
REED (Resist Exploitation, Embrace Dignity), Canada
Regards de Femmes, France
Rehabilitation Center for Ex-Brothel Victims, Korea
RIKK Centre for Gender Research at the University of Iceland, Iceland
Salvatorian Anti-Human Trafficking Project, United States
Samaritana, the Philippines
Sanlaap, India
Seong Sim Saeromteo, Korea
Sidlakan (an organization of survivors of Prostitution), the Philippines
Sinang-Kababaihan, the Philippines
Sisters of Ste. Anne, Canada
Schwestern vom Guten Hirten (Sisters of the Good Shepherd), Province of Germany
Sisters of the Good Shepherd, Ethiopia
Sisters of the Good Shepherd, Province of Italy
Sisters of Providence, Canada
SOLWODI, Germany (Works with Victims of Trafficking)
Somang Shelter, Korea
Sonhaewon, Korea
SOS Sexisme, France
Stigamot Counseling and Information Centre on Sexual Violence, Iceland
Sisyphe Feminist Website Organization, Canada
Talikala, the Philippines
Tisaka (an organization of survivors of prostitution), the Philippines
UNANIMA International, United States
Union Contre le Trafic des Etres Humains (UCTEH), France
Vancouver Rape Relief and Women?s Shelter, Canada
Women and Children First, Russia
Young Girl?s Shelter for a New Day, Korea