Liezl Tomas Rebugio, anti-trafficking project director for the National Asian Pacific American Women's Forum (NAPAWF), said the new approach for dealing with trafficking of women should focus on human rights of women, and less on forced sex work.
Rebugio said 600,000 to 800,000 people are trafficked across international borders each year, with the majority being women. Rebugio spoke on behalf of NAPAWF, the only national, multi-issue Asian and Pacific Islander (API) women's organization in the United States. Rebugio spoke at the Voyageurs Room in Atwood Memorial Center, with about 35 people in attendance.
NAPAWF is concerned with taking a new approach in dealing with trafficking, because the current focus is on women being trafficked into doing sex work, Rebugio said. There is no other focus on issues like forced labor, Rebugio said. "The U.S. government doesn't use a complete approach," Rebugio said. The human rights approach is what NAPAWF emphasizes, Rebugio said. NAPAWF's goal is to build a movement to advance social justice and human rights for API women and girls, and to do so, there needs to be more recognition of other aspects of women trafficking, Rebugio said.
Rebugio added there are people being trafficked into the United States to work at garment shops and who are not receiving proper rights because they have been forced into that position. Rebugio said law enforcement can only do so much with this issue and, "a law of policy is only as good as it is implemented."
Rebugio said migration is being confused with trafficking and, "building a fence between the U.S. and Mexico does not stop trafficking." Rebugio said any person can contribute to changing the ways of anti-trafficking. They can support a legislator that does not require the survivor to participate in the investigation and prosecution of their trafficker in order to receive services and legal immigration status.
Society can break the silence in communities and help increase awareness of the issue, especially the API community, because they are at the greatest risk of being trafficked. Supporting community-based research projects to ensure the number of API women trafficked into the United States is needed because correct, factual evidence is needed to make a change, Rebugio said.
They can also identify other anti-trafficking polices in countries like Thailand and India and those policies can be replaced in the United States. Rebugio said this is important to everyone because most of the API efforts toward change are ignored, and change is not made until the larger community recognizes their efforts.
Adapted from: Kyle Nelson. "Group focuses on trafficking change " University Chronicle. 22 March 2007.
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