Male Parliamentarians on Prevention of Violence Against Women and Girls
October 19, 2013
17-19 October 2013, Manila
West Australian State MP, Stephen Dawson, and PGPD Vice-Chair, Senator Claire Moore, attended the South East Asia Sub-Regional Parliamentarians' Meeting on Trafficking and Meeting of the Standing Committee of Male Parliamentarians on Prevention of Violence Against Women and Girls in Manila, the Philippines.
Claire Moore wrote of the conference,
In the middle of October I attended the Asian Forum of Parliamentarians on Population and Development (AFPPD) conference in Manila. I always look forward to AFPPD events, as it’s so important to come together and look at our progress towards the Millennium Development Goals as a region. The conference concerned human trafficking in South East Asia – the causes, the consequences and what Australia and our friends in Asia can do to combat this gross violation of human rights.
Human trafficking is one of the most pervasive abuses occurring in the world today and it is particularly rampant in our region. Trafficking involves recruiting an individual through threat or force in order to be exploited – typically in the labour force. Although women and girls make up the majority of victims, either through being forced into marriage, as a domestic slave or through sexual exploitation, men and boys are also victim to the many different forms of coerced labour. It is a global problem, hurting the most vulnerable groups across the world.
The International Labour Organisation estimates that global profits made from trafficked victims reach $31.6 billion USD every year. Half of this is made from people trafficked to wealthier industrialised countries. Over half of the 20.9 million people in forced labour are in Asia. Profits from forced commercial sexual exploitation alone amount to $11.2 billion in Asia. The suffering of many of our closest neighbours is a profitable commodity. Our region is the frontline in the fight against human trafficking.
At the conference there was a considerable amount of information to share but of concern is the absence of comprehensive data in the area of human trafficking and, therefore, the best policies to combat human trafficking.
The statistics are sobering. However learning about the phenomenal work being done to combat trafficking and restore dignity to victims gives me hope that we can eradicate this global injustice.
At the conference we learnt of the International Labour Organisation’s Mekong Sub-regional project to Combat Trafficking in Children and Women. Since 2000 the program has been working to eradicate the practice of labour exploitation of children and women in the Great Mekong Sub-region (including Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam, and Yunnan Province in China). By working with community organisations and governments to educate and ensure people in search of work can find safe and legal employment, we can reduce people’s vulnerability to exploitation.
Global problems require global solutions, and I am pleased and proud to be working with the AFPPD and the Parliamentary Group on Population and Development to ensure Australia plays a role in supporting and enhancing programs that seek to eradicate human trafficking.
Senator Claire Moore,
Vice-Chair of the Australian Parliamentary Group on Population and Development
Stephen Dawson wrote of the conference,
In attendance from Australia were myself and Senator Claire Moore while representatives also attended from Bhutan, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Iran, Kiribati, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, New Zealand, Sri Lanka and The Philippines.
Speakers from a range of organisations addressed the gathering including representatives from AUSAID, the UNDP and the ILO.
The objectives of the conference were:
To improve parliamentarians’ understanding of violence against women, specifically trafficking and its linkages with population and development;
To facilitate the exchange of best practices, lessons learned and policy recommendations;
To prevent and combat human trafficking by promoting the ratification and implementation of a protocol to prevent, suppress and punish trafficking in persons, especially women and girls;
and to reinforce parliamentarians’ commitment to ensure that we all fight to eliminate violence against women.
Attendees reported on the latest actions taken in their own countries to combat violence against women and girls and to eliminate trafficking.
We heard that as many as one in three women around the world have been beaten, coerced into sex or abused in some other way, most often by someone she knows, including her husband or another male family member.
Violence against women is a significant human rights violation that severely limits women’s social, economic and political participation in their communities. Violence against women also creates significant financial costs for communities, with increased spending required for health care, social services, policing and the justice system.
It is estimated that violence against women cost the Australian economy approximately $13.6 billion in 2008–09. There is no doubt that there is a strong link between violence against women and the practice of human trafficking. It is apparent from the meeting that the scale of human trafficking in South-East Asia is immense.
At the conclusion of the meetings, I am pleased to say that delegates agreed to a parliamentary declaration to combat all forms of trafficking. We also agreed to an advocacy plan as a tool for parliamentarians to prevent trafficking in their respective countries. There was plenty of discussion about eliminating violence against women and girls. A policy brief was also launched at the conference entitled “Human Trafficking in South-East Asia”.
It was an honour to attend such a gathering. It is very important for male parliamentarians to stand up and be counted on the issue of the prevention of violence against women and girls and there is no doubt that in some delegates’ countries it is not the done thing to stand up and speak about violence against women.
Mr Ouk Damry from Cambodia was elected as Chair of the Standing Committee of Male Parliamentarians on Prevention of Violence Against Women and Girls for the next two years with representatives from Bhutan and Myanmar elected as vice chairs.