Comments to the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women on Trafficking in Women and Girls Amidst Global Migration

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May 15, 2020

In May 2020, we were honored to be invited by the United Nations to provide comments on the Committee’s Draft General Recommendation on Trafficking in Women and Girls in the Context of Global Migration. We were incredibly encouraged to see that the Committee’s draft reflected our initial guidance in February 2019 (linked to below) to direct countries to actively address root causes of trafficking, including systemic gender discrimination and structural inequality, and to prioritize the needs of women in poverty, women in low-wage work, and women without stable immigration status, all of whom remain particularly susceptible to trafficking in the United States and worldwide.

Our Previous Work in this Area

In February 2019, we were privileged to join the Program on Human Rights and the Global Economy (PHRGE) at Northeastern University School of Law in submitting comments to the United Nation’s Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women. The Committee sought civil society guidance on providing countries with a concrete framework for addressing trafficking in women and girls in the context of global migration.

Read our Comments to the United Nations in Feb. 2019

We welcomed the opportunity to provide additional feedback on how to elevate the needs of the most vulnerable women and to harness the power of domestic law and a human rights-based approach. Our comments provided specific recommendations on a range of issues, including ways in which domestic legislation must close existing gaps in protection and create stronger and more comprehensive legal safeguards for those women and girls who are most susceptible to trafficking.

In our comments we emphasized the need to provide specific guidance to countries to:

  • Eliminate discriminatory legislative schemes
  • Close gaps in labor and anti-discrimination protections that leave workers in uncovered industries prone to exploitation
  • Enhance language accessibility, which will significantly expand access to justice for many trafficking victims
  • Enact laws to monitor and regulate supply chains
  • Enhance independent investigative and enforcement capacity to monitor industries known to be hubs for trafficking
  • Expand safe and legal migration pathways for women
  • Provide localized, community-based, and language-accessible support, guidance, and outreach in vulnerable communities to ensure women are educated about trafficking and have access to meaningful assistance

As we emphasized in our comments: to “effectively tackle trafficking, women and girls must have sustainable livelihood options, which requires dismantling social and legal structures that limit women’s access to autonomy and resources such as education, vocational training, state benefits, assets, credit, land, and decent work opportunities.

  • Human Trafficking


Seher Khawaja


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