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ASWA

African Sex Workers Alliance

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The overarching framework regarding ‘Discouraging the demand that fosters exploitation leading to trafficking’

Requested change (deletion):

 

  • Section IV, e “Root causes of trafficking in women and girls (DEL and discouraging the demand that fosters their exploitation through trafficking)”

 

Reason:

‘Demand’ is a root cause of trafficking[1] (see, for example, Recommended Principles and Guidelines, Guideline 7, p. 9, “Strategies aimed at preventing trafficking should take into account demand as a root cause.”) and should be subsumed within root causes, not placed alongside them.

 

  • (DEL Where applicable, instituting penal legislation to sanction the users of goods and services that result from trafficking in persons) (Section IV, e, “Root causes of trafficking in women and girls and discouraging the demand that fosters their exploitation through trafficking”, para 27 (b))

 

  • (DEL Investigating, prosecuting and convicting all perpetrators involved in the trafficking of persons, including those on the demand side.) (Section IV, e, “Root causes of trafficking in women and girls and discouraging the demand that fosters their exploitation through trafficking”, para 27 (d))

[1] Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Recommended Principles and Guidelines on Human Rights and Human Trafficking, Guideline 7, p. 9, E/2002/68/Add.1, 2002.

Reason:

This clause is overbroad and could have problematic outcomes for sex workers. It is a focus solely on buyers of sex work and push for the introduction of the Nordic Model that has immense adverse human rights impacts on sex workers. The forces of criminalisation and stigma of sex work combine to create an environment in which violence against sex workers is viewed as being somehow less abhorrent than violence against women in the general population. Sex workers of all genders are entitled to the human rights to which all people of the world are entitled, as enshrined in international human rights instruments. Similarly, they are entitled to all the constitutional and legal rights of citizens in the countries in which they live. However, as a stigmatised, marginalised, oppressed, dehumanised and criminalised population, sex workers are not only more likely to experience violence, but are also less likely to receive help when  they need it, from the police, health care workers and others tasked with assisting victims of violence. On the contrary, further abuse by service providers leads many sex workers to feel that reporting crimes against them is an exercise in futility, which further exacerbates marginalisation[1]. In fact, the CEDAW Concluding Observations on Article 6 have included recognizing the adverse human rights impact of client criminalization on sex workers[2] and recommends implementation of labour frameworks to “prevent and combat other exploitative practices assimilated to trafficking”[3].

[1] African Sex Worker Alliance (2019). “Every sex worker has got a story to tell about violence”: Violence against sex workers in Africa. Nairobi.

[2] CEDAW/C/NOR/CO/9, para 28

[3] CEDAW/C/CHE/CO/4-5, para 29

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