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European study on the gender dimension of trafficking in human beings

[Brussels, 5 April 2016] The European Women’s Lobby (EWL) welcomes the ’Study on the gender dimension of trafficking in human beings’ which has been commissioned by the European Commission, in the framework of the EU commitment to combat human trafficking. The EWL had been calling for a gender perspective on trafficking in human beings for years and is delighted to see a full report address and examine the reality of trafficking for sexual exploitation from a gender perspective.

Data from Eurostat, the European Police Office (Europol) and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) show that the most reported form of exploitation of victims is that of sexual exploitation and highlight its strong gender dimension (96 % women and girls). In its Resolution of 26 February 2014 on sexual exploitation and prostitution and its impact on gender equality (2013/2103(INI)), the European Parliament already urged the European Commission to evaluate the impact that the European legal framework designed to eliminate trafficking for sexual exploitation has had to date and to undertake further research on patterns of prostitution, on human trafficking for the purpose of sexual exploitation and on the increased level of sex tourism in the EU, with particular reference to minors, and to promote the exchange of best practices among the Member States.

The EC report develops a series of recommendations, on the different aspects of the EU work on trafficking in human beings: victim assistance, law enforcement, demand reduction through the regulation of prostitution, knowledge, measuring trafficking. Amonsgt them, the EWL welcomes key findings that support its analysis of sex trafficking and its links with the system of prostitution:

  • Gender mainstreaming in EU anti-trafficking policies and measures;
  • Funding for NGOs and gender-specific refuges;
  • Recognise the gender-specific longer recovery time from the harms of trafficking for sexual exploitation;
  • Provide services for women who wish to exit prostitution;
  • Reduce gender inequalities in employment and decision-making; Develop and resource the EU Strategy for Equality between women and men;
  • De-criminalise the sale of sex;
  • Member States should consider criminalising the purchase of sex in all circumstances;
  • Collect gender-segregated data, including on prostitution.

The report was launched in Brussels on 21 March, with several Members of the European Parliament. Among them, MEP Catherine Bearder, rapporteur of the FEMM report on trafficking, said: "the Swedish model can be seen as the best model to create an environment that does not allow sex trafficking to happen".

The report can be found here.

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