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The Vienna Forum to Fight Human Trafficking

Lisa Kerker

The European Women’s Lobby and partners of the Nordic Baltic Network participated in the Vienna Forum to Fight Human Trafficking on 13 - 15 February 2008, which is part of the United Nations Global Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking (UN.GIFT). The Forum brought together over 1000 delegates from governments, international organisations, private sector and some NGOs to share knowledge and increase awareness on ways to end human trafficking, and facilitate a global exchange of strategies and best practices. Participants from women’s organisations noted that very little consideration was given to survivors of trafficking for sexual exploitation or to the groups in the frontline who advocate for, rescue and assist these women.

EWL issued a joint statement with the Coalition against Trafficking in Women (CATW) and Equality Now to express concern that the Forum was not fully addressing the causes and specific dimensions of trafficking in women for sexual exploitation. The statement stresses that in order to combat the trafficking in women, governments must show the political will to develop effective tools to prosecute traffickers, protect victims of trafficking, and fully address the demand for women and children for sexual exploitation. Further, governments and the United Nations must address sex discrimination and put into place and adequately fund measures that improve the socio-economic, political and legal conditions of women and girls. The statement also underlines that criminalising the demand for prostitution is the most effective way to address the problem of trafficking for sexual exploitation.