Trafficking in persons is an increasing problem that involves both
sexual exploitation and labor exploitation of its victims. Trafficking
affects all regions and the majority of countries in the world. Both
men and women may be victims of trafficking, but the primary victims
worldwide are women and girls, the majority of whom are trafficked
for the purpose of sexual exploitation. Traffickers primarily target
women because they are disproportionately affected by poverty and discrimination,
factors that impede their access to employment, educational opportunities
and other resources.
Women’s advocates in Central and Eastern Europe and the Commonwealth
of Independent States (CEE/CIS), and around the world, are addressing
the problem of women being trafficked into the commercial sex industry
as a human rights violation and a form of gender-based violence.
Trafficking in women is a complicated phenomenon with many forces
that affect women’s decisions to work abroad. Perhaps the strongest
factor is the desperate economic situation, which impacts the availability
of satisfactory employment in many countries for women more severely
than men. Women may become victims of trafficking when they seek assistance
to obtain employment, work permits, visas and other travel documents.
Traffickers prey on women’s vulnerable circumstances and may
lure them into crime networks through deceit and false promises of
decent working conditions and fair pay.
Women from the CEE/CIS region are trafficked through formal and informal
channels all over the world. In some cases, women go abroad knowing
that they will work in the sex industry, but without awareness of the
terrible work conditions and violence that accompany the trafficking
business. Other women answer job advertisements for positions abroad
such as dancers, waitresses, and nannies, only to find themselves held
against their will and forced into prostitution and sexual slavery.
In the destination countries, women are subjected to physical violence,
sexual assault and rape, battery, imprisonment, threats and other forms
Under international law, governments are obligated to protect their
citizens from being trafficked, through programs that aim at prevention
and the protection of victims. Prevention of trafficking in women requires
examining the factors that contribute to the problem as well as providing
education to potential victims. Both government and non-governmental
programs should identify women who are at-risk for trafficking and
provide them with the tools necessary to find work abroad without putting
themselves at risk. At the same time, more far-reaching programs that
address gender inequalities in the labor market are needed to combat
trafficking in women.
A comprehensive strategy for combating trafficking must also consider
the safety of the victims. Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and
state agencies that work with repatriated victims of trafficking should
also address the multiple difficulties women face when they attempt
to reintegrate. Victims of trafficking face a range of needs including
physical and mental health care, job training and employment issues,
housing issues and, possibly, childcare.
The following sections are available on this site:
Explore the Issue
This section of the site allows users to increase their understanding
of the problem of trafficking in women through an exploration of the
definition of trafficking, the prevalence of the problem, factors that
contribute to trafficking, its effects on victims and strategies for
protection and support of victims and for prevention of the problem.
Research and Reports
This section of the site provides advocates with selected materials
on trafficking in women that are available on the web, on such
topics as how international organizations, like the United Nations
and the European Union, have responded to the problem, information
about source and destination countries and resources for NGOs
on addressing the problem of trafficking.
Law and Policy
This section of the site outlines the international legal obligations,
in both the United Nations and the European human rights systems, to
prevent and combat trafficking in women. This section also provides
information on how national legislation and policy can address the
problem of trafficking through, for example, criminal and immigration
The STOPVAW site offers sample training materials on trafficking in
women. These materials are designed to provide advocates with basic
training tools that can be adapted to country-specific circumstances,
the goals of a training program and the training audience. It is recommended
that advocates use the training materials on trafficking in women in
conjunction with the more general Guidelines
for Developing a Training Program which introduce a methodology
for conducting training for the general public and individuals and
organizations working to eliminate violence against women.