Re:Gender works to end gender inequity and discrimination against girls and women by exposing root causes and advancing research-informed action. Working with multiple sectors and disciplines, we are shaping a world that demands fairness across difference.
WeNews: Many Iraqi women who have fled to Syria to escape the U.S.-led war often face being sold into brothels by male relatives desperate for money.
"Um Ali is one of over a million refugees who have sought shelter in Syria since U.S. troops entered Iraq in 2003. She left with her husband and children during a wave of militia violence against Iraqis working--"collaborating"--with Americans in 2006.
Some girls and women among these refugees face being sex trafficked by people within their own families. No statistics or studies are available on this specific problem, but there are plenty of stories of men in a pinch treating female relatives as young as 13 as commodities for sex and marriage markets. Dodging such threats is particularly hard for women when they come from inside the family. Women who run away risk being branded prostitutes and subject to death at the hands of "dishonored" male kin. Marrying young and depending on men all their lives, they struggle to cope without a male provider and protector in Syria."
NY Times: Romania has been the center of trade in young girls for decades, and Iana Matei runs one of the only shelters in Romania for victims of sexual trafficking.
"The 15-year-old had been “trained” in prostitution in a nightclub in the southern Romanian city of Calarasi. Now, the sex traffickers were getting ready to sell her off to a Turkish brothel for $2,800.
Iana Matei, Romania's leading advocate for the victims of trafficking, had made contact with the girl and offered to wait outside the nightclub in her car, ready to take the teenager away if she could get out on the street for a cigarette break. But the girl had tried to escape before, and had been beaten severely. Ms. Matei was not sure she would have the courage to try again.
Then she appeared, bolting for the car and scrambling into the back seat. For more than 10 years, Ms. Matei, a psychologist by training, has been pulling young women out of the hands of traffickers, sometimes by staging “kidnappings,” sometimes just by offering them a place to stay, heal and rebuild their lives."
CNN: "According to the International Labor Organization (ILO), the United Nations agency that monitors employment, standards, and social protection issues, there are about 12.3 million victims of human trafficking around the world." Many of those women are from Mexico and Central America.
"Across Mexico, young girls dream of escaping their small towns for the big cities. They dream of a good job and a better life in the United States. That was the case of 'Claudia,' a name given to protect her identity. Her dream of a better life quickly evolved into a nightmare. When she was 15, she met a charming man at a party who would later become her boyfriend. 'This individual would tell me a lot about the United States and would ask me to join him to go work at a clothes factory,' she said. Claudia was eventually smuggled into the United States and taken to New York City. Once there, she soon realized her boyfriend was part of a prostitution ring. He forced her into prostitution. She says he would beat her up, burn her with lit cigarettes and tell her he would have her parents in Mexico killed if she tried to resist or escape.
Many people associate prostitution with women walking the streets in shady areas and being picked up by johns. But Claudia says the prostitution ring for which she was forced to work had a long list of clients who knew the price they had to pay, who to call and where to go. It's a well-organized and lucrative underground industry. Luis CdeBaca monitors human trafficking at the U.S. State Department. He says there are no reliable figures on the scale of the problem, but forced prostitution from Mexico and Central America is a big part of it. 'They know that their victims are not going to go to law enforcement," said CdeBaca. "They know that their victims are afraid. In fact, sometimes one of their threats is to turn people over to the immigration service.'"
Colorlines: In the years following the U.S. invasion of Iraq, women have found themselves "increasingly alienated from civil society" and with limited prospects of marriage, as social networks for marriage have crumbled and the numbers of young men have fallen dramatically due to the war. In addition, many women have become trapped in growing sex industries, which have grown in the war torn country.
"The footprint of the United States occupation of Iraq is embedded in the country’s rocky political sojourn, and the status of women marks the nation’s arrested progress. After the invasion, Washington thought Iraqi women would find American-style freedom irresistible. Today, they’re left holding up half the sky in the midst of a ravaged political and economic landscape.
The Associated Press reports that many Iraqi women feel increasingly alienated from civil society and face traditional pressures to find a husband in a bombed-out marriage market.
Women’s advocates may on the one hand lament the inequality that makes women economically dependent on marriage. But there’s also justifiable frustration that women bear so much of the burden of their unraveling social fabric.
NCRW asked leading research and policy expert Linda Tarr-Whelan to weigh in on the status of CEDAW. In addition to her responses, below is an excerpt from a previously published commentary from Linda featured on Women’s eNEws and The Huffington Post.
On Dec. 18, 1979, the United Nations adopted the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, or CEDAW, making it a watershed day for women around the globe.
In those heady days, I was deputy assistant to President Jimmy Carter for women's concerns. We expected speedy action after he sent the treaty to the Senate.
WeNews: This week, new statistics on rising sex traffric in the United States were released, as a congressional bill on human trafficking is readied for voting. Activists continie to debate on solutions to prostitution and sex trafficking, with some supporting criminalization of prostitutes while others lean towards punishing those who purchase sex.
"The ongoing challenges of international trafficking were highlighted June 14 by the State Department's annual release of trafficking figures, which estimated 12.3 million adults and children were trafficked in 2009, at a rate of 1.8 people per 1,000 worldwide.
These statistics come out as Rep. Chris Smith, a New Jersey Republican and co-chair of the Congressional Human Trafficking Caucus, is co-sponsoring a bill to establish an international registry of known sex offenders to help foreign and U.S. law enforcement agencies crack down on underage sex tourism also linked to trafficking. The Smith bill, called the International Megan's Law, was approved by the House Foreign Affairs Committee on April 28 and could come up for a House vote in the next few weeks, Smith said.
But while sex trafficking and awareness of it are both on the rise, the appropriate responses are still a matter of some debate and controversy, particularly concerning the criminal treatment of prostitution."