EWL News

EWL-UN event raises awareness on trafficking for sexual exploitation

[Brussels, 28 October 2011] On Thursday 27 October, the EWL, in partnership with UNRIC and UN WOMEN Brussels Office, hosted an event on violence against women and trafficking in the Harlan Levey Projects Gallery in Brussels. The event took place in the context of the exhibition of the finalists of the United Nations ad competition “Say NO to Violence Against Women” and the 5th EU Anti-Trafficking Day (18 October 2011).

EWL Secretary General Cécile Gréboval highlighted the intrinsic links between violence against women and trafficking in women. "The root causes of trafficking in women can be found in the structural inequality between women and men in our society: because of the structural male domination, women are rendered more vulnerable to exploitation and abuse. We have to combat those root causes, which include unequal access to economic resources and decision-making, the control of men over women’s body and sexuality, and the tolerance for violence against women."

EU Anti-Trafficking Coordinator Myria Vassiliadou explained the current work of the European Commission in relation to the recent EU directive on trafficking. "There is a strong emphasis on a gender-based approach in the directive. The EC is therefore working on developing a publication to inform about what this gender approach should be, in terms of prevention, prosecution and protection of victims. For example, we know that 95% of victims of trafficking experience sexual abuse in the trafficking process. We therefore have to understand how the phenomenon of trafficking is gendered and what this implies in terms of concrete measures." Ms Vassiliadou also said that it is crucial to work with civil society organisations and she welcomed the EWL-UN joint event to raise awareness about trafficking, a form of slavery.

Participants were invited to engage in a discussion after the screening of the documentary ’Not for Sale.’ The documentary challenges the traditional views and myths on prostitution and sexual exploitation of women’s bodies through interviews with women survivors of trafficking for sexual exploitation and prostitution.

During the discussion, Dagmar Schumacher, Director of the UN WOMEN Brussels Office, pointed out to the need to develop concrete, alternative income opportunities for women in prostitution, in parallel to awareness raising to deter the demand. Participants stressed the need for more awareness raising in educational programmes, and discussed the changing recruitment processes, which demonstrate how traffickers and procurers adapt to legislation and evolving technologies.

To get more information about the gendered aspects of trafficking, read EWL briefing here.

Click here to see the photos of the 30 finalists from the 2011 United Nations European Ad Competition "Say NO to Violence Against Women".

Visit the blog of the Ad Competion here here.

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