Trafficking in human beings is a serious human rights violation that includes exploitation of victims, denial of access to fundamental rights, and multiple forms of violence. Trafficking may also constitute a form of gender-based violence and discrimination, as it often affects women and children who are particularly vulnerable to violence due to their circumstances. Furthermore, certain forms of exploitation have a highly disproportionate impact on women, including sexual exploitation, forced prostitution, forced begging, petty crime, domestic servitude, and certain forms of agriculture.
This is why we work to ensure that the only legal framework used to combat trafficking in human beings is a human rights framework, which prioritizes protection of victims as its main objective. Immigration control and criminal law frameworks, if they fail to adopt a human rights approach, are inadequate and often violate victims’ rights.
As regards access to justice, trafficking victims face serious obstacles to having their rights recognized and protected. Because of a lack of understanding of trafficking in human beings and the human rights violations it entails, legal systems discriminate against victims for their ethnic or national origin, stereotype them as “suspects,” or cast doubt on the credibility of their statements. Those who have been subjected to trafficking for the purposes of sexual exploitation face the additional stigma of prostitution.
Our experience in this area has shown us that even when a legal framework of rights is in place, if there are not adequate mechanisms for properly identifying trafficking victims and informing them of their rights, they will never be able to exercise these rights. This is why we work for compliance and enforcement of international human rights standards that require states to remedy this situation.
We work to ensure that trafficking victims are identified as such and all their rights are guaranteed by the authorities. Women and girls should have access to full enjoyment of their rights, regardless of migration status.