EWL Statement On the EU Strategy towards the Eradication of Trafficking in Human Beings 2012-2016

[Brussels, 19 June 2012] The European Women’s Lobby (EWL),* the largest coalition of women’s NGOs in Europe, welcomes the efforts of the European Commission (EC) to provide an integrated, coherent, and outcome-oriented strategy towards the eradication of trafficking in human beings. The appointment of an EU Anti-Trafficking Coordinator in 2010 was undoubtedly a first sign of the EU’s will to develop effective policies to eradicate trafficking in human beings.

The EWL has long been calling on the EU and its Members States to tackle trafficking in human beings in a coordinated manner, addressing the root causes of this phenomenon whose victims are mainly women and girls. The EWL therefore welcomes the acknowledgement by the EC that trafficking is rooted in inequality between women and men and violence against women. Indeed, data collected by the EC in September 2011 confirms statistics gathered by the UN: three quarters of registered victims are trafficked for sexual exploitation, and women and girls are the main victims of trafficking in human beings. Eradicating trafficking therefore necessitates policies developed within a women’s rights/ gender equality framework.

This assessment supports the EWL analysis of trafficking as a gendered phenomenon. The systematic implementation of a gender equality perspective in all actions, policies on trafficking at EU and national level should aim at the realisation of equality between women and men. The realisation of women’s human rights and equality between women and men should therefore be an objective within each of the ‘five Ps’ of the approach chosen by the Commission in the Strategy: protection and service provision, prevention, prosecution and partnership.

With this in mind, the EWL welcomes the actions of the EC which strengthen the fundamental rights of women and girls and incorporate a gender perspective, such as the proposal to develop with the Member States EU-wide guidance on gender-sensitive information campaigns. The EWL also supports prevention actions which aim at reducing demand for trafficking, and especially the demand for prostitution, which is the main cause of the perpetuation of sexual exploitation and fuels trafficking in women and girls.

The EWL hopes that the priority given to enhanced cooperation amongst key actors will provide concrete opportunities for women’s NGO to contribute to the implementation of the strategy, at all levels, including within the foreseen EU Platform of civil society organisations and service providers. Regarding identification and assistance to victims, the EWL is ready to share the outcomes of its work and projects on trafficking in women for sexual exploitation: the Nordic-Baltic project (2005-2008) developed concrete recommendations for identification and support standards from a strong gender perspective; several EWL members developed projects on quality services for victims of trafficking, training modules for officials from a gender perspective, actions to strengthen access to justice and compensation, etc.

Finally, the EWL would also like to remind the EC of the key role played by women’s organisations and service providers on the ground, which support and accompany women victims of trafficking on a daily basis; amongst the various funding opportunities offered by the EC, it is essential that targeted budget lines for projects supporting women and girls victims of prostitution and trafficking and addressing the root causes of trafficking for sexual exploitation are sustained. Such funding programmes should guarantee sustainable and substantial support, including for the 2014-2020 funding period, in order for the important goals of the EU strategy to be achieved.


* The European Women’s Lobby (EWL) is the largest umbrella organisation of women’s associations in the European Union (EU), working to promote women’s rights and equality between women and men. EWL membership extends to organisations in all 27 EU Member States and three of the candidate countries, as well as to 21 European-wide organisations, representing a total of more than 2000 associations.

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