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End impunity for buyers of sex, urge civil society actors

Feb 01, 2017

Global anti-trafficking movement actors gathered in New Delhi demanding an end to impunity of sex buyers and traffickers.

Ashley Judd

New Delhi: More than 250 actors representing the global anti-trafficking movement got together in New Delhi to raise their voice for abolishing prostitution systems across the world. The activists congregated as part of the World Congress against the Sexual Exploitation of Women and Girls on January 30-31.

The Congress organised by an Indian anti-trafficking nonprofit Apne Aap Women Worldwide and CAP International has activists from five continents representing about 30 countries. The Congress is held in partnership with another NGO the All India Dalit Mahila Adhikar Manch.

UNFPA and Apne Aap Goodwill ambassador Ashley Judd regretted that world continues to be hostile and violent toward women. “As a survivor and with my sisters, it takes courage to fight it,” she added.

Founder of Apne Aap, Ruchira Gupta, said that the Congress is being hosted at a time when a new Trafficking Bill is going to be introduced in Indian Parliament. This Bill needs to address sexual exploitation and prostitution and have provisions for the prevention of trafficking through budget allocations for investment in the food, clothing, housing and education of at risk girls.

Ruchira urged that the upcoming Bill needed measures for ending impunity of traffickers and sex-buyers. “It must do away with Section of 8 of the Immoral Trafficking Prevention Act (ITPA) that criminalises women for soliciting in a public place. This is in keeping with the UN Protocol and Nordic laws, which are now considered to be a global Best Practice,” Ruchira said.

“The Congress seeks to highlight the vulnerability of the last girl-who is most vulnerable to prostitution because she at various times is a poor, female, teenager, low-caste in India, Black in USA, Indigenous in Australia and Canada, of a minority religion or ethnicity, perhaps a refugee in Africa and Europe, and is therefore preyed upon by traffickers,” she said.

The Congress was launched with a panel discussion by survivors of prostitution and Ashley Judd, CNN Freedom Hero, Anuradha Koirala, Vimal Thorat of the AIDMM and Pers-Anders Sunesson, Swedish Ambassador at Large for Combatting Trafficking.

The civil society representatives -survivors of sexual exploitation, frontline services, representatives of the most marginalized women and girls (indigenous, low caste, migrant, minorities and women of colour), student movements and trade unions joined forces to denounce the worldwide economic, sexual and patriarchal exploitation of women and girls in prostitution at the Congress.

Sarah Benson, Chair of CAP International, said that as an affiliation of 19 frontline NGOs providing daily assistance to thousands of women, girls and men affected by prostitution in 16 countries, it was their collective duty to expose the realities of sexual exploitation.

“While our societies remain widely deaf to the distress of victims of prostitution and trafficking, we stand in solidarity with survivors advocating for their universal decriminalisation, for unconditional access to protection, justice and exit options, and for the implementation of policies targeting their economic and sexual exploiters: pimps, procurers and sex buyers,” Sarah added.

Apne Aap’s survivor activist Fatima Khatoon from Nat community said, “I have a right to live, and my daughter has a right to live and just like other people in the society have a right to live. I asked the mothers in my own community that why should we sell our daughters? Why should we be sold.” In Nat community inter-generational prostitution still prevails.

Jackie Lynne, co-founder of the Indigenous Women Against Sex Industry, indigenous survivor of sexual exploitation (Canada), said "We are not missing, just stolen".

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