Partnering to stop trafficking in women and girls

As we browsed through the various sessions for today we came across “Partnering to Stop Trafficking in Women and Girls.” Can you imagine in this day and age we have inhumane acts being committed against humans, better yet mostly women and girls?

Speakers Statement of purpose
Mr. Libran N. Cabactulan the Ambassador and Permanent Representation of the Republic of the Philippines to the United States said “I am not a stranger to violence against women”. As one of the panelist he also mentioned that not only does he manages two “safe houses” in the Philippines, he went on to emphasize the importance of safeguarding women all around the world from cruel and despicable acts. Mr. Libran highlighted the word partnership because his belief is it takes not only women and girls fighting for one another, it also takes men to have a movement to stop the violence against women. When he said that, we all agreed that he made a very powerful statement. Think about it…most of these sessions we attend regarding women empowerment are comprised of 99% women. We are fighting for one another’s survival, banning together to be heard, but where are the men? If we could get men to organize movements up against this difficult task, we could also continue to get government and corporations to get involved and that is where the word PARTNERSHIP comes to life.

Again, look at the topic of this discussion “Partnering to Stop Trafficking in Women and Girls”. Would you think that the hotels, airlines, travel agencies, tour operators and others in the travel and tourism industry would play a part in stopping trafficking? We certainly didn’t at first, but as Jami Day the director of Corporate Responsibility and Real Hospitality Group began explaining how she was proud to stand before us and say that her company have signed The Code of Conduct for the Protection of Children from Sexual Exploitation in Travel and Tourism, the only accepted tool that sets standards for responsible business practices and requires training of employees to respond to situations of potential abuse. Also known as “The Code”. She went on to express her satisfaction that all of the hotels she manages in New York City will be successfully trained by April 1, 2013. Ms. Day shared that in the interim so far there were two cases of illegal acts that were prevented against young girls at her hotels because of her employees being trained on the code.

Statistics
Businesses plays a major role in partnering to prevent human trafficking and that is why The California Transparency in Supply Chains Act of 2010 requires business with gross global sales in excess of US 4100 million to disclose their efforts to eradicate trafficking from their direct supply chains.

Unfortunately statistics show that over one million children enter the sex trade every year, two million women and girls are transported across international borders annually, 98% of the victims of forced sexual exploitation are women and girls, 95% of trafficking victims experience physical or sexual violence during trafficking, human trafficking is a 31.6 billion dollar business and is the fastest growing organizes criminal activity in the world. 49% of profits are generated in industrial countries; 30.6% in Asia and the Pacific and worldwide in 2006 only one in every 800 persons prosecuted for trafficking was convicted.

When I say “we”, I’m not just saying women and girls, I’m saying everyone men, women, boys, girls need to not only create a partnership but also a movement to prevent trafficking. We can do so by being an informed consumer by finding out where products come from and the conditions of those who make them before you buy. Choose products that adhere to fair trade principles and support vulnerable communities. Don’t buy products you suspect are made in sweatshops or by child labor. Don’t support businesses known to exploit people, tell your friend and family to do the same. Also follow the code, keep your eyes and ears open for evidence of human trafficking or enslavement and report it to law enforcement officials. Go to www.thecode.org for more information.

Submitted By CWA volunteers, 1105 and 1101 Karen Leemou, Anita Long, Leticia Scrivens, Sharon Brown and Colleen Smith.