Thursday, March 14, 2013

How the UN is fighting Trafficking

The fourth panelist addressing trafficking of women and girls was the Assistant Secretary-General for Intergovernmental Support and Strategic Partnerships, Lakshimi Puri. As the representative of the UN, she had a lot of questions thrown her way! She began her presentation with how the UN can respond to this situation and advance the elimination of trafficking. The UN has 3 areas they are trying to advance to address the issue: personal security, expanding/maintaining choices, and their voice. She went on to explain how this is a global issue, and violence rises from multiple, intersecting forms of discrimination. Lakshimi provided context for the situation: Trafficking exists as long as companies exist that make higher profits off of forced labor and trafficking, and benefit greatly from gender-based vulnerabilities. She proclaims that we need to eliminate the gap between commitment and action. We need to frame trafficking as nothing less than a human rights issue, and emphasize this! We need to adopt programs and standards, both criminal and legal, that make it illegal and unattainable. She stated that these responses are embedded in structural factors that need to be addressed before they can be. The structural factors she was referring to come from methods of development that create inequality, and more impoverished populations. We must remove impunity, even with military officials, in all cases. We must protect those in the informal sector, as well as those in specific groups that are commonly exploited, whether for ethnic, social, economic, or religious reasons. Lakshimi Puri wrapped up her discussion with a call to these women and men. We need to get them to the policy table. We need to get them to testify against their perpetrators and claim their rights. They can guide the rest of us with where change needs to happen. We can learn the most from these women and from their personal experiences. We need to hear their stories, and let them guide us!

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