On March 10, 2015 ‘Good Shepherd’ hosted a parallel event during CSW 59 – Beijing+20 entitled “Advocacy and Networking Strategies for Legislative Reform: Ending Prostitution and Human Trafficking.” The event shared a holistic approach to ending prostitution and human trafficking and shared successful strategies developed and engaged in by Ruhama, a Dublin (Ireland) based NGO which works on a national level with women affected by prostitution and other forms of commercial sexual exploitation. Sarah Benson, CEO of Ruhama was the main panel presenter leading the discussion. The Minister of State with special responsibility for New Communities, Culture and Equality, Aodhán Ó Ríordáin attended the event and spoke in a very sensitive way of his conviction of the need for gender equality and the human rights of girls and women. The Minister said ‘the girls I taught in Lawrence O’Toole primary school in Sherrif Street, Dublin made me a feminist, and taught me gender equality’ When I heard this I tweeted the following “Minister par excellence for gender equality. Great sensitivity to girls.’ Diane Matte, founder of CLES (Coalition against sexual exploitation) endorsed all that was shared from the Canadian perspective. Diane, Minister Aodhán Ó Ríordáin and Sarah.
Sarah referenced Executive Director of UN Women, Dr Phumzile Mlambo-Kguka who at the NGOCSW Consultation day on March 8th said ‘while there had been some progress in the past 20 years, much of it was still WITHIN the patriarchal system. Rather than pushing for change within this system, we need to change the WHOLE PARADIGM.’ Sarah continued the commercial sex trade has to be one of the most perfect expressions of the patriarchal system – predicated as it is on the principle of male entitlement to the female body. Instead of accepting its inevitability and making efforts to simply effect change within the existing system we need to change the paradigm. Otherwise, the ROOT CAUSES Dr Mlambo-Nguka mentioned in her speech, will never be addressed.
Change demands not just change to laws but also of change of attitudes, policies and services. Focus needs to shift to the buyer and responses to those in prostitution need to be compassionate, supportive and resourced to support not only harm reduction work but also incorporate exiting and recovery. What is needed is a broad holistic approach.
Taine Bien-Aime, Executive Director of the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women noted the following points
- ‘sex work’ is not work.
- the need to invest in girls and women who exit prostitution and human trafficking
- work with the United Nations – reviewing language and enforcing a human rights framework
- challenge masculinity
Diane noted that prostitution is something done to woman and is violence against women. Prostitution is connected with racism and extreme poverty. She called for exiting strategies and the putting of resources into organizations and services.
Winifred, Taina Bien-Aime, Sarah (at the back), Minister Aodhán Ó Ríordáin with participants.
The panel was skillfully moderated by our mission partner in New York, Nancy Fritsche Egan. Their was some quality time for interaction of panelists and participants.
Speakers Bios are available here.
The Good Shepherd position paper on Prostitution of Women and Girls was distributed at the event. CLICK HERE to view.
This event was one of several organized numerous organizations e.g. Coalition for the Abolition of Prostitution International, (CAP); European Women’s Lobby; Apne Aap International; Coalition Against Trafficking in Women, Space International, National Alliance of Women’s Organizations UK; Women’s Front of Norway; and Foundation SCELLES; Swedish Women’s Lobby to name a few. The message was strong and clear – prostitution is violence against women.
Speakers included Melissa Farley Ph.D. (USA); Ingesborg Kraus PH.D (Germany); Rachel Moran, (Ireland) author, activist, and founding member of Survivors of Prostitution-Abuse calling for Enlightenment (SPACE International); Vednita Carter founder and Executive Director of Breaking Free (USA); Jean Enriquez, Executive Director, CATW-Asia Pacific; Esohe Aghatise, Consultant Trafficking Programmes Manager, Equality Now.