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Degradation, stigma and the plight of inherent misogyny. A primary cause of prevention of rehabilita

(Photo Credit : Girl -Jistu)

Violence begets violence. The prophetic words of Dr. King Jr. have carried their weight through the times.

Until stronger mechanism, resources, and policy makers enforce otherwise, the use of force through violent and coercive means has and always will affect vulnerable populations the most. Populations where distinct members of society are not given any agency or tools to, where their rights and education are threatened based on their sex and identity, are more likely to be exposed and endure violence.

Human trafficking has been a byproduct of the violence, abuse of power, inequities in resources, and exploitation and degradation of women through sexual means. United Nations protocol on trafficking defines it as follows:

The recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation.

Exploitation should include, at a minimum, the exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labour or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs.[1]

Lawyers, activists, policy makers, regulators, academics, and celebrities have engaged in strong efforts to prevent and raise awareness –however the long lasting effects continue to effect the victims as they attempt to rebuild their lives. More importantly, few campaigns focus and address the stigma associated with trafficking and the detrimental effects on the woman and child. We live in a time where we are told that much of a woman's importance is derived from their appearance, the honor they bring to the family, their innocence, and most importantly what lies between their legs.

"The individualistic emphasis and sexual focus of anti-trafficking efforts fails to address the wider issue of structural violence and economic determinants of all forms of trafficking, labor abuse, and exploitive smuggling. Such policies also fail to recognize the much broader sexual abuse of women integral to many forms of exploitive globalized labor, such as sexual harassment and rape in sweatshops and the “maid trade.”

Finally, by putting sexual exploitation first and assuming that women are uniquely degraded by sex, anti-trafficking policy diverts attention from equally harmful and widespread forms of labor exploitation that affect equally “innocent” men and children, as well as women toiling in dangerous and debilitating non-sexual jobs.”[2]

Little to no regard, needs to be given to how uncomfortable this topic makes us, we need to start having direct and unabashed conversations of turning the discussion on the shame and disgust those in power who enable human trafficking to continue, those who exploit and degrade women. We need voices and educational programs that show how abhorrent we find those individuals. A recent case study done in Nepal, where sex-trafficking is most prominent due to poverty, lack of education and protection of the law and the commonality of gender based discrimination and violence found

“Trafficked girls are so stigmatized once they have been prostituted, it is extremely difficult for them to regain acceptance in their communities (Frederick & Kelly, 2000). They have a very low probability of ever getting married (a cultural imperative for Nepali women) and are often treated as outcasts. Oftentimes, it is not only the girl who is disgraced upon her return home but also her family and sometimes even her entire community (Mahendra, Bhattarai, Dahal, & Crowley, 2001)”[3]

Girls and women trafficked into prostitution have experienced an extreme and sustained form of gender-based violence. They typically suffer physical and psychological trauma. We need to provide our educators, activist and support organizations with the right tools when it comes to awareness campaigns, prevention, and intervention methods. More than making a public spectacle of the issue – we need the conversation to start in all areas of our society.

The shame that many families experience allows for the cycle violence to continue, it also leaves open the door for further abuse. The shame also plays to an unhealthy issue – instead of focusing our efforts to shame the men and power makes that allow for such abhorrent practices, the attention gets turned to woman who suffer the stigma and discrimination be it in work places, their homes, or the communities they live in.

As a community we are told to speak out about the injustices and stand as ally's however those empty words of encouragement fall on deaf ears when the societies we have built are too busy pointing fingers at those that speak out; shaming them, restricting their access to create a livelihood and rebuild, questioning their 'virtue', disowning them, and more importantly reinforcing the notion that a woman's worth is only connected to what lies between her legs.

[1] Article 3, Protocol to Prevent, Suppress, and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, Supplementing the United Nations Convention Against Transnational Organised Crime, United Nations, 2000.

[2] Brysk, Alison. “Sex as Slavery? Understanding Private Wrongs.” Human Rights Review 12, no. 3 (September 1, 2011): 259–70.

[3] Crawford, M. and Kaufman, M. (2008). Sex Trafficking in Nepal. Violence Against Women, 14(8), pp.905-916.

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