On Tuesday March 12th, I attended an event hosted by the Committee to Stop Trafficking in Persons and Mariana Vanin from the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women on using the Sustainable Development Goals to prevent women and girls from being trafficked.
On the panel were:
Angela Reed, the coordinator of Mercy Global Action. As a social worker she focused on trafficking and gender based violence. She has worked with survivors in the Philippines and Australia. She has conducted multiple research projects on human trafficking and how the experience is understood by survivors. She now focuses on prevention.
Shandra Woworuntu, the executive director of Mentari. She is a survivor leader who works with survivors of gender based violence in New York and Indonesia. Her aim is to help survivors reintegrate into society, with the aim being that they can live independently.
Ruchira Gupta, The founder and president of Apne Aap. She has worked on multiple documentaries focusing on the human rights abuses of human trafficking. She works now on advocating for the punishment, suppression, and prevention of human trafficking.
The conversation brought forth the importance of seeing human trafficking in a context with the rest of the world. Certain groups of people face oppressions (such as poverty, sexism, racism, homophobia, and so on), and human trafficking is one of the many tools of domination.
With this in mind, they all pointed to important assets that all women and girls need in order to avoid being victimized by traffickers. Basic needs, social connections, education, safety, documents, and political knowledge were some of the important things needed to prevent human trafficking. It is not hard to see how the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals would help prevent further victimization. By creating systems in which young women are able to advance themselves in positive ways, they would be less vulnerable to traffickers.
"I am not crazy, I want to make a change." - Shandra Woworuntu
Shandra brought up some important things I think we should all think about as we continue CSW 63, and our fight to end trafficking in persons. First, she clarified the role of NGOs (like ours) from the survivor's perspective. According to her, we need to act as the bridge between survivors and governments. We should be listening, learning, understanding, and identifying. Our responsibility is to work with survivors to find the best solutions, and put pressure on the right people to make it happen. With these goals in mind, I am more renewed in our need to implement the SDGs effectively than I have every been. As Shandra said "I am not crazy, I want to make a change."