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Let’s talk trafficking!

By Ishita Dutta, International Women’s Rights Action Watch Asia Pacific (IWRAW)

In January 2019, in Bangkok, I had the privilege of meeting with and learning from the experiences of 40 experts invested in ending trafficking in women. They represented over 25 countries but, as happens often in ‘global’ advocacy spaces, we had one expert carrying all of Latin America on their back and three experts carrying all of Africa. They represented equivalent breadth in their personal and work experiences concerning trafficking. Some were on the frontlines of organising workers like themselves to seek better labour rights protections, including from trafficking; some had pioneered trafficking prevention methods in their communities, some provided legal counsel and legal aid, frontline services including shelters to persons affected by trafficking, and some had unpacked time and time again, for various audiences including governments, the legal and conceptual complexities that exist in the context of trafficking, and what human rights-based responses to trafficking should look like.

Participants at the Bankok global convening on trafficking

They came at the invitation of IWRAW Asia Pacific and our partner GAATW as we redouble our efforts to ensure that we work purposively across different social movements – women’s rights, labour rights and migrant rights – to address the challenge of trafficking structurally and create an avowedly feminist response to it. In the process, they also sought to inform, through their lived experiences, the development of the upcoming CEDAW general recommendation on trafficking in women and girls in the context of global migration.

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