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    ̳ 쳴:

    FORTY SECOND SESSION
    THE COMMISSION ON THE STATUS OF WOMEN


    STATEMENT BY

    MRS. NARCISA ESCALER
    Deputy Director General

    ITEM 3(c):
    FOLLOW-UP TO THE FOURTH WORLD CONFERENCE ON WOMEN
    New York, 2 March 1998

    STATEMENT BY THE INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATION FOR MIGRATION (IOM) TO THE COMMISSION ON THE STATUS OF WOMEN

    Madam Chairperson, distinguished delegates, The International Organization for Migration is pleased to be given the opportunity to address this session of the Commission on the Status of Women. IOM's comments will focus mainly on trafficking in women and children - a phenomenon which has grown to major proportions world-wide, often through internationally organised criminal networks, and which has caused much human suffering. It is high time for the international community to respond to these problems in a coordinated and concrete way.

    Madam Chairperson,

    Contemporary population movements are characterised by increasing pressures by individuals seeking, through migration, either to escape war, persecution, poverty, or human rights violations, or simply to find better economic opportunities. At the same time, many States have imposed stricter border controls and entry requirements. Thus, in much of the world, the possibilities for legal migration have decreased, even though considerable demand persists in destination countries for certain categories of foreign labour. This demand serves as a pull-factor for migration. And one major result of the interaction of these factors has been an increase in irregular, trans-border movements. This is the irregular migration phenomenon of which trafficking is but one part - albeit often a particularly abusive part, especially as it relates to women and children.

    Indeed, the unabated demand for migration, coupled with governments' stricter entry controls or requirements, has given rise to a lucrative parallel market for services. Traffickers exploit the potential for profit in this irregular migration and, for an often hefty fee, supply the intending migrants with services such as fraudulent travel documents, transportation, guided border crossings, accommodation and job brokering.

    In discussions on trafficking, particular attention has to be given to the question of the voluntariness of the migrants' movement. For many migrants who are eager to escape poverty or political and social insecurity, and are insufficiently aware of the pitfalls of irregular migration, it seems worth paying a fee to try their luck, thereby allowing their dream for a better life to be exploited by traffickers. Yet in many instances, trafficked migrants are lured by false promises, misled by erroneous information on conditions and entry regulations, and driven by economic despair or large-scale violence. In such cases, the migrant's freedom of choice is so seriously impaired that the voluntariness of the transaction must be questioned.

    One form of trafficking in migrants, which is widespread and particularly disturbing, is trafficking in women. It has especially negative consequences for the women and societies involved. It differs from other forms of human trafficking because it is part of the exploitation of women that has occurred throughout history and across cultures. As such, it is an issue that involves both gender and basic human rights abuses. Today, women are trafficked from South to North, from South to South and from East to West - the constant being that the flows are from poorer countries to countries where the standard of living for an average citizen is relatively higher than their own.

    Trafficking in women is a phenomenon that is growing and constantly changing, either in form or in its level of complexity. Often it is linked with forced prostitution that follows false promises of well-paid jobs. However, not all women are trafficked for sexual exploitation. Many are traded for marriage, as domestic and construction workers, or as beggars. And too many of these women become victims of forced labour, in many cases suffering deprivation of freedom and appropriation of income, or being forced into slave-like practices. Moreover, trafficking in women can involve violence against women. The 4th World Conference on Women addressed the physical, sexual, and psychological harm that this poses to its victims. It proposed several recommendations to governments of origin, transit and destination, as well as regional and international organisations.

    IOM, for its part, as an inter-governmental migration organisation, has identified combating trafficking in women as one of its priority action areas. Within its mandate, IOM is committed to, and has focused particularly on, addressing violence against women at two stages in the process:

    • firstly, through prevention before victimisation occurs, by organising information campaigns in areas of origin, and

    • secondly, through assistance to those who have already suffered the consequences, in the form of rescue and rehabilitation.

    At the same time, IOM has also sought to provide a forum for discussion among governments on such issues, with the aim of fostering and coordinating measures to combat trafficking. In this framework, IOM has sponsored several of its own seminars on the subject, at both the global and regional levels. Moreover, at the EU's request, IOM organised the Conference on Trafficking in Women to countries of the European Union which the EU held in Vienna in1996. IOM has also participated in discussions with governmental, intergovernmental and non-governmental partners to address the subject of trafficking in women and children in the upper Mekong basin.

    Given the very nature of trafficking and its recent resurgence on a large scale, accurate and up-to-date data are scarce. This has led IOM to carry out a series of research studies on trafficking in women for sexual exploitation in Western and Central Europe, the Caribbean, and the Asian region. The two most recent of these studies dealt with trafficking in Filipino women to Japan, and Cambodian women and children who were stranded in Thailand. Similarly, the increasing problem of trafficking has led the European Union to establish a Joint Action and Programme - the STOP Programme - which sets out to combat trafficking in women and children for sexual exploitation in EU members States. Based on our previous experience in the field, IOM was pleased to be invited by the EU to conduct research in both Union and non-Union countries, to assess and analyse the adequacy of current information and statistical sources in selected countries of transit and origin.

    With regard to countries of origin, information dissemination programmes are an important part of IOM's action to work on the prevention side of the equation. IOM has successfully carried out information programmes in migrant-sending countries, such as Albania and Romania, in the past. At present, we are implementing one in Ukraine with the aim of increasing awareness of the realities of migration among potential women victims of trafficking as well as relevant authorities. In the Philippines, a media campaign has also been launched for intending Overseas Contractual Workers (OCWs) to enable them to make better informed decisions on migration for overseas employment, including the risks of resorting to traffickers.

    Recognising the urgency of also dealing with the consequences of trafficking for sexual exploitation for the victims, IOM has begun to develop projects for the return and reintegration of migrant women who have

    been exposed to abuse, enabling them to return home in dignity and safety. In Asia, a first, small pilot project has helped some 100 beneficiaries to return from Thailand to their home countries, where they are provided with a one-year reintegration component that includes skills training, counseling and income-generating activities. Building on this experience, IOM is exploring ways to offer similar assistance to women and children trafficked to Western Europe from Eastern Europe, Latin America, and other areas, in collaboration with governmental organisations and NGOs in both Western European destination countries and the countries of origin

    Madam chairperson,

    Trafficking in migrants, and especially trafficking in women for sexual exploitation, is a modern migration challenge demanding a strong, comprehensive and harmonised response from the international community. That response must include adoption of the appropriate policies and legislation to penalize traffickers, protect their victims and inform potential victims, as well as creation of the necessary migration management capacity to combat trafficking and educate the public. In the panel discussions later this week on the rights of women and on violence against women, we look forward to further sharing of ideas on how trafficking in women can be addressed more effectively through the cooperative efforts of States, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations, and civil society, working together.

    Thank you very much


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