Vol. 4 Num 77 Tue. August 12, 2003  
Front Page

S Asian women vow to fight trafficking

A three-day programme of the South Asian Court of Women on the Violence of Trafficking and HIV/AIDS began in the city yesterday.

On the first day of the programme, a roundtable discussion was held at the IDB Bhaban to understand and find ways to respond to the increasing violence and vulnerability associated with trafficking in women and children and to combat the deadly HIV/AIDS.

Later, participants, all in black, congregated in front of the parliament building to protest the trafficking of women and children.

The programme is being organised by Unnayan Bikolper Niti Nirdharani Gabeshona (UBINIG) and Narigrantha Prabartana as part of a worldwide initiative taken by Asian Women Human Rights Council (AWHRC) in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and OXFAM South Asia.

The meeting was told that cross-border trafficking of women and children has been reported by the UNDP as the third largest and fastest growing sector of the global illegal trade involving an estimated seven billion dollars a year.

A part of the discussion titled 'Beyond Borders: Trafficking, Human Insecurity and National Security' dealt with the issues of women's security undermined by globalisation and re-conceptualising national security to include the poor.

In "Innovative Partnerships: Integrating Trafficking and HIV/AIDS", the participants called for de-criminalisation of sex-workers, refocusing on the rural sector and re-defined some of the existing contentious terms in the field.

In "Refocusing Issues: Media Representation of Trafficking and HIV/AIDS", participants stressed the need to put greater emphasis on the identity of traffickers, rapists and organised crime syndicates than on the victims.

Other topics included "Human Rights and Inhuman Wrongs: State Policies and Trafficking" and "A Burst of Light: Celebrating Survival and Resistance".

The discussions followed an inaugural address by Minister for Women and Children Affairs Khurshid Jahan Huq, where she identified poverty and illiteracy as contributing factors to women's falling victim to trafficking.

Farida Akhter from UBINIG and UNDP's Resident Representative Jorgen Lissner introduced the programme for the day. Winnie Mandela and Gayatri Chakravarti Spivak were among the participants numbering some 300.

Women activists hold a candlelight vigil in front of the Jatiya Sangsad Bhaban on the first day of the "South Asian Women's Court against Women and Children's Trafficking and HIV/AIDS". Photo: STAR