In her interview with Radical Girlsss to mark the EU’s Anti-Trafficking Day 2020, Rachel Moran, whose own book Paid for: My Journey through Prostitution we consider a must-read for everybody, was asked about what advice she would give young women today. She talked about the modern challenges posed by social media and the way young women are constantly bombarded with images and messages about sexuality, as well as the importance of arming ourselves with information, learning from the feminists who have gone before us.
“We, all of us – young women and middle-aged women like myself – we need to respect our elders, and that’s something that I don’t see us doing often enough. Because there are women who’ve come before us, who have written extremely important texts and, honestly, if I had read – I’m not sure when Sheila Jeffreys’ The Idea of Prostitution was actually published, I think it might have been during the ‘90s. But I can tell you had I read that book before I got into prostitution, I wouldn’t have gone near prostitution. You know, because it lays out so very clearly the dynamics of what prostitution involves.
“Never forget that a crisis will suffice for women’s rights to be threatened. These rights are never granted. You need to remain careful for your entire life”
With the COVID-19 crisis, this quote from French feminist Simone de Beauvoir proved itself to be once again a tough reminder of an ugly truth. In the face of this unprecedented health emergency, European countries have adopted extraordinary measures such as extensive lockdowns, restricting freedoms and human rights in the process. First victims? Women, everywhere, enduring violence; from being trapped with abusers (many European countries have seen a rise of about 30% in emergency calls reporting male violence in the home) to not being able to enjoy their rights, such as the one to access safe and legal abortion.
In Italy, Government inaction has left women and girls facing avoidable obstacles to accessing this right, putting their health and lives at risk according to Human Rights Watch. This failure to ensure women’s sexual and reproductive health care is not surprising; it only highlights many European countries’ outdated restrictions and the harm they cause to women and girls.
The Gloria Steinem Equality Fund to End Sex Trafficking, the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women (CATW), SPACE International and The Sisterhood is Global Institute have written this letterto express the global support for Parliamentary efforts in Germany to adopt the Equality Model. Associazione IROKO has signed the letter and we give our full support to efforts in Germany and around the world to recognise that “prostitution is not work but rather a very harmful and dehumanising system, which fuels the sex trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation of women and girls”.
Liliam Altuntas, survivor of trafficking and prostitution, told IROKO “reading this letter has really made me happy, especially because Germany is a country that’s very close to my heart. Because when I was trafficked, I was sold and brought to Germany. Hearing that there are people who support and make way for this kind of legal change is really important to me. It would represent a real response to the suffering that we have endured, so I’m very happy to join this fight and I’m sure that we will win.”
We encourage our friends and supporters to read and sign the letter.
Click here to watch an interview with Dr. Ingeborg Kraus, conducted by ENoMW‘s Anna Zobnina, in May 2020 just after the publication of a letter signed by various German MPs calling for brothels to remain permanently closed after the coronavirus lockdown.
This documentary is a particularly challenging watch, but it’s a necessary one. Try not to fall into the trap of dismissing the phenomenon of trafficking as something that happens ‘somewhere else’, but recognise the clear theme among all women trafficked and prostituted around the world: women and girls don’t choose prostitution. Prostitution chooses them. As Lauran Bethell puts it, “trafficking is the exploitation of vulnerability”, something which is ever-present in prostitution, whether on the streets of Bangkok, in a posh hotel room in Las Vegas, or in a brothel in Amsterdam.
“Even the people who promote prostitution will put out helpful fact sheets on how to avoid getting killed. They don’t say it exactly that way, but they put out a fact sheet that says:
-When you go into a hotel room when you’re servicing a john, drop something on the floor and kick it under the bed, so you can look under the bed to see if there’s a gun or handcuffs there -Don’t wear a scarf because that can be used to strangle you -Don’t wear super high heels to an escort out-call because you can’t run fast enough
This is information coming from people that are promoting prostitution as a good job.”
Can you think of any job or profession where these kinds of tactics are necessary to avoid physical violence and even death?
Why does prostitution continue, even thrive, in our modern ‘enlightened’ societies where we claim to protect human rights above all else? Money. It’s as simple as that. By legalising, or even just turning a blind eye, to prostitution, we are not protecting a woman’s right to choose what she does with her body. We are protecting a man’s right to buy a woman. And as long as there are men willing and able to pay money for women and girls, there will be organised crime networks trafficking and selling them.
That leads us to the solution. Block the business model. By criminalising both the pimps and the everyday buyers in prostitution, while offering support and exit services to the prostituted women, the abolitionist model essentially creates a very, very bad business environment for pimps and johns. Traffickers and pimps see Sweden, where this model is implemented, as a bad market. It also has a social implication in the way that people view and value women, creating “an atmosphere of safety, an atmosphere of dignity in the country.”
Sweden has the lowest rate of trafficking in the European Union.
IF YOU WANT TO STOP TRAFFICKING YOU MUST STOP PROSTITUTION
After the success of our initial course of three sessions on access to healthcare with a group of migrant women, we decided to invite them back for a further two sessions to go a bit more in depth. We noticed that many of the participants seemed keen to talk about specific aspects of their health or that of their family and they had medical questions that we were unable to answer. So, together with MSF Italy we invited one of their nurses who works in Rome to facilitate these sessions with more of a specific focus on health, rather than just access to services. This also allowed our own staff and other practitioners who work with migrant women to better understand some of the services these women use and what their rights are.
This project was aimed at women and so the two topics we chose were maternal health and family planning. The first of these two supplementary sessions focused on maternal health, taking into consideration the whole journey of pregnancy, including the choice about whether or not to take the pregnancy to term, the tests that are offered, giving birth and the first months of motherhood. Not only did we look at how the local services support women and families through this process, but also how those services work and what is involved, what a woman can expect when she is starting a family.
Have you ever been harassed in the street? Received a crass message on a dating app? Had a coworker make a comment about your appearance that just didn’t sit right?
You’re not alone.
With the #MeToo movement, it’s easy to log onto Twitter or Facebook and see just how many women are victims of sexual harassment. Whether in person or online, women everywhere have experienced it in one way or another. And with all the new ways the internet has opened avenues of communication, online harassment is more prevalent than ever.
According to a study by the Pew Research Center, most online abuse takes place on social media. Although men are also subject to online harassment – which includes name calling, derision, and physical threats – the study found that online, women are more than twice as likely as men to experience sexual harassment.
IROKO Association, Resistenza Femminista, Unione Donne Italiane di Napoli , Salute Donna and Differenza Donna are holding a day of talks and reflection on the sex industry and human trafficking on 28th May 2018 from 15:00 to 19:00. It will be held in the “Aldo Moro” room in the Chamber of Deputies in Rome. Taking part in these talks will be the honourable Fabiana Dadone (from the 5 Star Movement) and Senator Edoardo Patriarca (from the Democratic Party).
Julie Bindel, writer and journalist (The Guardian, New Statesman, Sunday Telegraph, Standpoint), co-founder of Justice For Women and author of the book entitled The Pimping of Prostitution – an investigation into the global sex trade, drawing on interviews with 250 women from 40 countries – will be among international speakers at the event. Alongside her; Ingeborg Kraus, a German psychologist and trauma expert, who has held conferences around the world on the failure of the German Model (legalising prostitution), and the links between trauma and prostitution; Rachel Moran, an Irish survivor of prostitution, author of the book Paid For: My Journey Through Prostitution and co-founder of SPACE International, an association of women who have escaped from prostitution; Blessing Okoedion, activist, author of the book Il coraggio della libertà (The Courage of Freedom), who has lived through the experience of being trafficked to Italy; Giovani Conzo, the anti-mafia prosecutor, who has been involved in significant trials of trafficked Nigerian women in Italy.
I am pleased to announce that the Edo State Governor Godwin Obaseki has announced the creation of a Task Force to fight trafficking in Edo State, during the 4th Edo Women’s Conference.
Results must be seen within the year, he said.
EWDI and IROKO are working to support his administration and the Edo State Attorney General Yinka Omorogbe (EWDI’s erstwhile Chairwoman) in their activities to create the Task Force.
Executive Director of Iroko Onlus
In the picture: Esohe Aghatise, an Edo Women trustee, the Attorney General, the Governor, the UNODC delegate, the Director of NAPTIP Edo zonal Office, the Nigerian investigative reporter Tobore Ovuorie – who experienced trafficking undercover – and the Swiss Ambassadress.
The 4th Annual Conference on Trafficking in Persons is to be held in Benin City, Nigeria, on Thursday 13th July, by Edo Women’s Development Initiative (EWDI).
This year the focus is Modern-Day Slavery: Policies and Programmes to Combat/End Trafficking in Edo State.
For the fourth year in a row, the all-female group -some of which EWDI’s founders- puts the trafficking issue, mainly involving women and young women from Edo State trafficked to be sexually exploited in Europe, under the international spotlight.
The roots of the problem are various: political instability in Nigeria and in the neighbouring countries; growing poverty in the countries of origin and smugglers in Italy; unchanged sex demand despite economic crisis in Europe.
Underage girls victims of trafficking sold by their families have grown in number over recent years.
Therefore, we need to analyse the problem through its political, economical, social and cultural implications.
This is the reason why EWDI intends to actively involve civil society, public entities and religious bodies in order to allocate resources to arrest the trafficking and selling of women mainly from Edo State.
EWDI is engaged in this effort since 2014.
This year Esohe Aghatise, Director of Iroko, will give a keynote address. A UN Expert on Trafficking in persons and Board Member of Coalition Against Trafficking in Women, she was honoured in 2007 by the US State Department as a hero in the fight against Modern-Day Slavery; in 2008 by the Nigerian National Agency for the Prohibition of Traffic in Persons (NAPTIP) for her work against trafficking and awarded in 2014 by the European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE) as one of the women and men inspiring Europe in Gender Equality.
Finally, it is encouraging to know that one of EWDI trustees, Professor Yinka Omorogbe, is the new Commissioner for Justice and Attorney General at Edo State.