Integrating Spirituality and #CSW61

Here is a thematic summary of events held during #csw61 in relation to ending human trafficking and prostitution and all violence against girls and women so as to achieve women’s economic liberation.  At least 7 events saw the promotion of the Nordic Model,  through survivors of the sex trade, links between prostitution and other violation of women’s human rights, the work of frontline and advocacy groups, and the links with trafficking in women and girls. A link to full account of the event is HERE   11 events were organized by abolitionist NGO’s dealing specifically with the realities of prostitution and the sex trade.

Marie Helene Halligon has prepared a Way of the Cross /Chemin de Croix for this season of Lent and Holy Week linking with the Human Trafficking.  Chemin de Croix   Way of the Cross  (Sorry no  Spanish version)

The violence against women and girls is stark as presented in the various CSW61 side events and parallel events. But equally strong is the growing strength of the abolitionist movement, groups and NGO’s.

“There is really no such thing as the ‘voiceless’. There are only the deliberatly silenced, or the preferably unheard”,  Arundhati Roy

I am happy to see girls organizations taking up this issue including Wagggs and Rights4Girls.   Rebecca Hunt, from NAWO (National Alliance of Women’s Organizations, UK) Youth, spoke about  “Sexual exploitation is not a good job”. “For society to suggest that prostitution is a safe and decent job is a stain on us all. We need to question this notion, that in times of poverty and lack of opportunities, it is ok for someone to feel that they have no choice but to turn to prostitution. We have to stand up and say, society must have a red line that sexual exploitation is, without question, unacceptable and cannot be considered a decent job”.

Read more on the situation of girls

Another aspect raised was ‘trading on the female body’ addressing surrogacy. Surrogacy is an international problem that demands an international solution. Speakers highlighted the similar root causes with prostitution, in terms of demand, system, business-driven industry, exploitation of women and the most vulnerable ones.

Did #CSW 61 address any of these issues in the outcome document?  Well not really.  Human trafficking is referenced 5 times in the document see Advanced unedited edition CSW 61 Outcome Document  Paragraph 14, h, and  qq. ‘ Devise, strengthen and implement comprehensive anti-trafficking strategies that integrate a human rights and sustainable development perspective, and enforce, as appropriate, legal frameworks, in a gender and age-sensitive manner, to combat and eliminate all forms of trafficking in persons; raise public awareness of the issue of trafficking in persons, in particular women and girls;  take measures to reduce the vulnerability of women and girls to modern slavery and sexual exploitation; and enhance international cooperation, inter alia, to counter with a view to eliminating the demand that fosters all forms of exploitation, including sexual exploitation and forced labour;

Sexual harassment gets two mentions in Paragraph 14 and h – listed with Human Trafficking.  h. “Develop and apply gender-sensitive measures for the protection from, prevention and punishment of all forms of violence against women and girls in public and private spaces, including domestic violence, sexual harassment, trafficking in persons and femicide, among others, to promote the realization of women’s and girls’ economic rights and empowerment and facilitate women’s full and productive employment and contribution to the economy, including by facilitating changes in gender stereotypes and negative social norms, attitudes and behaviours, inter alia, through promoting community mobilization, women’s economic autonomy and the engagement of men and boys, particularly community leaders; and explore, where possible, measures to respond to the consequences of violence against women, such as employment protection, time off from work, awareness training, psychosocial services and social safety nets for women and girls who are victims and survivors of violence, and furthering their economic opportunities;”

Facilitating changes in gender stereotypes and negative social norms, attitudes and behaviors is the challenge.

Read the latest Newsletter Stop Trafficking Shaming Companies that turn a blind eye to sexual exploitation.

 

Celebrating women who are no longer left behind and Marietta Latonio who has made the difference.

A parallel event on Wednesday March 22nd entitled ‘Inherent Dignity, Real Choices: A Preventive Approach to Ending Trafficking for Sexual Exploitation’ celebrated women who are no longer ‘left behind’ and a woman – Marietta Latonio – who has made the differences.

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This was a collaborative event with Mercy International, UNANIMA International, the NGO Committee to Stop Trafficking in Persons, Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary and US Catholic Sisters Against Human Trafficking. The event was recorded and uploaded on You Tube

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Marietta Latonio, advocate, researcher, professor of social work, and monitor and evaluation officer at Good Shepherd Welcome House, Cebu in the Philippines was awarded a ‘Woman of Courage’ by Sr Jean Quinn, Executive Director of UNANIMA International in recognition of her work and dedication. It was stressed that she is a woman who gives of herself. Remember she co-researched with Angela Reed  ‘I Have A Voice Trafficked women – in their own words’

 

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We were honored to have H.E. Mrs Irene Susan B Natividad, Deputy Representative of the Mission of the Philippines Mission to the United Nations attending the event. Later in the evening we discovered that Her Excellency is a niece of Sr Mary James Wilson RGS. Small world!

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Great pictures – Marietta, H.E. Mrs Irene Susan B Natividad (in the center) and Jean Quinn. Angela Reed – the moderator of the event standing in the back. The event opened and closed with a group named ‘Raging Grannies’ a socially conscious non-violent group who bring lots of fun and laughter to the cause. Lyrics to Love and Justice:

Chorus:  Love and Justice be my flag I’ll live my truth what e’re will be                                                    I swear that I cannot rest till there is equality Love and Justice be my flag                           I’ll live my truth whatever comes so many rivers to cross till our journey’s done

More connections – one of the members of the group worked as a social worker in Good Shepherd Services NY many years ago!  A central part of the event had the recorded voices of women from Welcome House, Cebu who are now empowered women through care and education.

Stories

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Mariana Vanin – Programme and Communications Officer of Coalition Against Trafficking in Women (CATW) (pictured above) was a panelist with Winifred Doherty. Winifred noted the similairites in approach offered at Welcome House in Cebu and at Ruhama, Dublin Ireland.  The advocacy work of Ruhama was instrumental in the passing of the new sexual offense criminal bill whereby anyone who buys sex is prosecuted and women in prostitution are decriminalized. Prostitution is violence.

Congratulations Marietta!

Co-sponsors

Back Row – Angela Reed; Cecelia O’Dwyer; Jean Quinn.   Front Row – Mariana Vanin; Winifred Doherty; Marietta Latonio.