UN Women Topic 1
Sexual Trafficking and Exploitation of Women and Girls
The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime defines human trafficking as “the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of people through force, fraud or deception, with the aim of exploiting them for profit” (UNODC). Trafficking is a horrendous violation of an individual’s fundamental rights. Human trafficking does not discriminate against gender, race or ethnicity; its victims are everywhere in the world, but women and girls make up the majority of trafficking victims. Around 65 percent of all trafficking victims are women and girls, with 90 percent of women being victims of sexual trafficking (Bahous 2022).
During times of crisis, the risk and demand of sexual trafficking increases. When present, poverty, economic insecurity, lack of safe migration passages, and displacement can all exacerbate the demand for sexual trafficking (Bahous 2022). These situations can create vulnerable, high-risk targets for traffickers. Recent examples of crises that have increased the demand for sexual trafficking include the COVID-19 pandemic and the Russian invasion of Ukraine. During the pandemic, women and girls have shifted their lives online, increasing the risk of sexual exploitation. Two thirds of anti-trafficking workers saw an increase in online recruitment by trafficker for the sole purpose of sexual exploitation (SG Report 2020). In addition to that trend, the stakeholders and survivors of trafficking saw a decrease in accessibility of assistance and services for the victims and survivors of sexual trafficking (UN Women 2020). When the Russian Federation invaded Ukraine, online web searches for Ukrainian escorts jumped by 300 percent (Bahous 2022). The demand for this could compromise the vulnerable women and girls who are fleeing the destruction of their homes.
The Spotlight Initiative, a partnership between the United Nations and the European Union to eradicate all forms of violence against women and girls, has advocated for safer migration passage, with the hope of reducing sexual trafficking (Bahous 2022). The OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights created a National Referral Mechanism (NRM) that gives a general framework on how countries and their organizations can identify and deal with victims of trafficking (OSCE 2004: 10). It is shown that when women have economic inequality, the vulnerability to trafficking increases (SG Report 2020).
As a delegate, it will be your job to work with other delegates to find solutions to combat and eliminate sexual trafficking for women and girls.
Questions to Consider:
- What is your country’s position on sexual trafficking for women and girls?
- Does your country have any laws or policies against sexual trafficking?
- What can your country do to reduce and combat sexual trafficking?
- What does your country want to see from this committee?
- How can your delegation successfully cooperate with other delegates?
Resources to Consider:
- Joint UN Commentary. November 2011. “Prevent Combat Protect: Human Trafficking.” Published Jointly by the OHCHR, UNHCR, UNICEF, UNODC, UN Women, and ILO. Retrieved from https://www.unwomen.org/sites/default/files/Headquarters/Media/Publications/en/UNCommentaryEUTraffickingDirective2011.pdf
- UNICEF. 2022. “The Spotlight Initiative: Working together with the European Union to eradicate violence against women and girls.” Published by UNICEF. Retrieved from https://www.unicef.org/eu/spotlight-initiative
- UN Women. 2022. “Other Areas of Work: Ending Violence Against Women.” Published by UN Women. Retrieved from https://www.unwomen.org/en/what-we-do/ending-violence-against-women/other-areas-of-work
Bahous, Sima. July 29, 2022. “Statement: Crises drive an increase in human trafficking.” Published by the UN Women Executive Director. Retrieved from https://www.unwomen.org/en/news-stories/statement/2022/07/statement-crises-drive-an-increase-in-human-trafficking-heres-how-we-stop-it
OSCE. 2004. “National Referral Mechanisms: Joining Efforts to Protect the Rights of Trafficked, A Practical Handbook.” Published by the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights. Retrieved from https://www.osce.org/files/f/documents/0/4/13967.pdf
UN Women. 2020. “Addressing Emerging Human Trafficking Trends and Consequences of the COVID-19 Pandemic.” Published by the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women. Retrieved from https://www.unwomen.org/sites/default/files/Headquarters/Attachments/Sections/Library/Publications/2020/Guidance-Addressing-emerging-human-trafficking-trends-and-consequences-of-the-COVID-19-pandemic-en.pdf
[SG Report] UN Women, Secretariat General Report. July 30, 2020. “Trafficking in Women and Girls.” Published by the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women. Retrieved from https://www.unwomen.org/sites/default/files/Headquarters/Attachments/Sections/Library/Publications/2020/A-75-289-SG-report-Trafficking-Infographic-and-recommendations-en.pdf
UNODC. “Human Trafficking.” Published by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. Retrieved from https://www.unodc.org/unodc/en/human-trafficking/human-trafficking.html