Thursday, October 24, 2002

Conference on the trafficking of women

Debates devoted to the trafficking of women usually leave no room for victims of the flesh trade to talk about their problems and what they want.

An international conference scheduled to take place in Bangkok early next month promises to be different.

The "Partner in Change Conference", due to be held from November 6 to 8 at the Ambassador Hotel, will focus on how women who were forced or lured into the flesh trade have subsequently organised themselves and rebuilt their lives despite the social stigma they face.

Their initiatives are viewed as an effective component of the anti-trafficking campaign and part of the larger movement for social justice and gender equity. They are also valuable models for affirmation of women's rights in the context of migration, trafficking and work in the informal sector.

Organised by the Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women (GAATW), the conference will also discuss how to make migration safe for women who comprise more than 50 percent of migrants within Asia.

Other topics will include how to organise training programmes for sex workers; how to deal with state policies which rob women of their citizenship rights (and often push them into prostitution); and how the community at large can play a more effective role in protecting young women from such a fate.

The conference organisers will also be screening five short films featuring sex workers talking about their collective struggle.

An Empower production will focus on that body's education and health programmes with sex workers of Thailand. Shakti Samuha from Nepal worked on a video brochure for itself, while a group from Kerala in southern India depicts the life of an Indian sex worker. The Cambodia Prostitutes Union used their 10 minutes on celluloid to urge audiences to see them as human beings, not as throw-away members of society or carriers of the Aids virus. The women from Durjoy and Ulka, Bangladesh named their film We, the Citizens to emphasise state oppression and their protest against it; while portraying anger and frustration with the situation, the film nevertheless ends on a hopeful note.

The women involved did all the camera work, script-writing and acting themselves and got professional help in the editing process. The results should be judged not for their finesse but for what the women chose to depict.

The film-makers will be present at the conference to describe their experiences.

One of the two publications to be launched at the event is Ku Mu Samrap Puying Thi Yaitin. A Thai version of GAATW's Migrating Woman's Handbook, which is also available in English and Indonesian, it provides clear and precise information for prospective migrants with a view to prevent trafficking.

For more details on the conference, call GAATW on 02-8641427 or fax 02-864-1637. Alternatively, email or visit the Web site

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Created: November 14, 2002
Last modified: November 15, 2002
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