Parliamentarians' Meeting on Trafficking and Violence Against Women and Girls
November 13, 2013
By PGPD Associate Member Stephen Dawson,
Manila, Philippines on 17-19 October 2013
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 United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the International Labour Organisation (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 costs 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.