Using the Internet to Fight
the Global Trafficking
and Sexual Exploitation of Women
A. The Online Movement
Concern about women and children who have been trafficked for use
in the sex industry has grown steadily over the past decade. Despite
the lack of clarity over the nature and extent of the problem, there
is an emerging consensus among NGOs, nations, and international
bodies that trafficking demands attention.
Several agencies and organizations have reclaimed the Internet
as a tool for fighting rather than fueling sexual violence and exploitation.
These groups have worked tirelessly to call attention to the sex
trade and violence in the sex industry. Their efforts target not
only legislators, but also women and children at risk of being trafficked.
They have posted electronic copies of reports on trafficking and
sexual exploitation in the sex industry, survivor testimonies, and
anti-trafficking handbooks. In addition, many have made available
sample anti-trafficking curricula for advocates and grassroots organizers.
Among the best-known organizations dedicated to fighting trafficking
are the Coalition Against
Trafficking in Women (CATW), the Global
Alliance Against Trafficking in Women (GAATW), and Anti-Slavery
International. For a more complete list of anti-trafficking
organizations, visit http://www.inet.co.th/org/gaatw/.
It should be noted that while these organizations are all dedicated
to reducing both the trafficking and sexual exploitation of women,
they often have very different ideas of what precisely this entails.
For instance, the GAATW seeks to eliminate abusive labor and recruitment
practices in the sex industry, while the CATW views all prostitution
as abusive and seeks to eradicate it in all its forms. In addition,
many of these groups have dedicated energy specifically to the issue
of sexual exploitation on the Internet. Click here
to read CATW's proposed resolution, Misuse of the Internet for the
Purpose of Sexual Exploitation, submitted to the United Nations
Working Group on Contemporary Forms of Slavery in May, 1998.
Sex worker's rights groups also play a key role in the anti-trafficking
movement. These organizations, which consist mainly of current and
former prostitutes, seek to eliminate abusive labor and recruitment
practices in the sex industry, improve working conditions and salary,
ensure the implementation of health and safety regulations, and
raise awareness about the violence and discrimination sex workers
face at the hands of pimps, johns, the police, and the general public.
Among the best known of these groups are Call
Off Your Old Tired Ethics (COYOTE) and the Prostitutes'
Education Network (PEN). For a more complete list, visit http://www.inet.co.th/org/gaatw/.
In 1997, many of these organizations came together to publish the
Sex Workers' Manifesto, available online at http://www.bayswan.org/manifest.html,
which demands recognition of prostitution as a legitimate form of
Despite their disagreements, these organizations and others have
been pivotal in the recent passage of anti-trafficking legislation
and policies. Within the past decade, the United States, the United
Nations, and several other countries have enacted anti-trafficking
laws, including the Trafficking
Victims Protection Act of 2000, the United
Nations Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in
Persons, Especially Women and Children, Supplementing the United
Nations Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime, and
Convention on Preventing and Combating Trafficking in Women and
Children for Prostitution.
Go on to Part IV - Discussion Questions
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