The International Day against Sexual Exploitation and Trafficking of Women and Children is celebrated every 23 September. It was jointly established by the World Conference of the Coalition against Trafficking in Persons and the Women’s Conference that took place in January 1999 in Dhaka, Bangladesh.
On September 23rd, 1923 the first legal norm against child prostitution, known as Palacios Act 9.143 (Spanish only), was enacted in the world.
The number of victims of trafficking for sexual exploitation is alarming. An estimated two-thirds of the victims of trafficking are women and most cases are related to sexual exploitation.
The Belém do Pará Convention defines violence against women as “any act or conduct, based on gender, which causes death or physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, whether in the public or the private sphere”.
The Second Hemispheric Report on the Implementation of the Belém do Pará Convention highlights some progress in addressing sexual violence and abuse, including forced prostitution, sexual slavery and human trafficking for sexual exploitation. Some States Party adjusted their legislation on trafficking in persons to the Palermo Protocol. They either criminalized the offense or enacted specific rules on human trafficking. This allowed for a comprehensive approach to the prevention and punishment of this crime.
Despite these advances, much remains to be done to eradicate this scourge which affects every country in the world. According to “Regional tools to fight violence against women“, in Mexico, out of every 100,000 women, 14,029.9 had been subjected to physical violence. In Peru in 2012, there were a total of 6,240 reports of violations of sexual freedom, with female victims accounting for 93.41% of such reports; of these victims, 4,257 were younger than 18 years of age. In the Dominican Republic, one out of every 10 women has been the victim of sexual violence at some point in her life.
On September 18th and 19th, the XI Meeting of the Committee of Experts of the Follow-up Mechanism of the Convention of Belém do Pará (MESECVI) was held at the Spanish Cooperation Training Center in Montevideo. The goal was to discuss the progress made and challenges ahead in implementation of the Convention by the States Parties. See agenda. A forum on violence and sexual and reproductive rights was held with civil society organizations. This meeting resulted in a Declaration that will be posted soon on the MESECVI website.
Sexual Exploitation and Trafficking of Women and Children is a crime that does not respect rank or condition. It is one of the most lucrative transnational businesses after drug and arms trafficking. Today children and women of all ages and conditions are likely to be subject to slavery and sexual exploitation. Addressing the importance of this day will contribute to a deeper reflection on how to prevent this crime.