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Action sought to tackle traff

Subject: Action sought to tackle       trafficking in women 


      Action sought to tackle
      trafficking in women

      WITH trafficking in women turning worse
      because of the Asian economic meltdown,
      government and non-government
      organisations as well as international
      agencies are seeking joint action to tackle
      the problem. 

      Participants of a two-day regional
      conference on trafficking in women agreed
      Tuesday on the need for multilateral and
      multidisciplinary action and for assistance
      to the women who should be treated as
      victims and not illegal immigrants. 

      According to Mizuho Matsuda, director of
      the Asian Women's Fund, which is one of
      the organisers, it is the first time authorities
      and social workers from the three sectors
      are meeting and trying to work out a
      cooperation plan to combat this type of

      She hoped the meeting would come up with
      a code of conduct or measures on
      protection, prevention and repatriation of
      women. She cited a case when Japanese
      workers could not assist rescued women
      who were taken from Thailand to a
      neighbouring country. The women then fled
      to Japan, but without proper documents
      and recognition from any country, they were
      considered stateless. 

      Senator Saisuree Chutikul voiced a similar
      call in her opening statement, saying she
      hoped the conference would come up with
      ''practical suggestions'' to prevent, protect
      or repatriate such women. 

      In her presentation, Siriporn Skrobanek,
      international coordinator of the Global
      Alliance Against Women, pointed out the
      magnitude and changing trend of the
      problem. She said women are being
      recruited to work overseas under false
      pretenses and most end up being forced
      into prostitution. 

      She said trafficking and prostitution are
      inter-related, but not of the same issue, and
      urged the redefinition of trafficking in
      women, saying that the victims were
      transported across the border not just for
      the purpose of prostitution. 

      ''A major concern is not fighting against
      migration (legal or illegal) nor prostitution
      per se. Focus must be on stopping the
      abusive recruitment and abusive practices
      against women in private and public
      domains,'' she said. 

      Siriporn said measures that had been
      formulated in regional and international fora
      ended up in more state control than
      promoting the basic rights of affected
      women. She said tightened border
      crossings and restrictions on women's
      freedom of movement only made ''women
      depend more on the abusive recruiters and

      Siriporn's Global Alliance has been calling
      for the creation of an international
      instrument to combat trafficking networks
      and standard rules for the humanitarian
      treatment of trafficked women. 

      The Nation