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Violence Against Women on the Internet

Campus Sexual Assault Policies
(opens: 4.16.02)
(opens: 4.23.02)
Sex Trafficking
(opens: 4.30.02)
The Internet as a Site of Resistance
(opens: 5.7.02)
(opens: 5.14.02)
NOTE: Modules will launch by 5 p.m. U.S. Eastern time on the date listed.

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 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 In 1997, many of these organizations came together to publish the Sex Workers' Manifesto, available online at, which demands recognition of prostitution as a legitimate form of labor.

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 the SAARC Convention on Preventing and Combating Trafficking in Women and Children for Prostitution.

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