Coalition Against Trafficking in Women
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CATW is rooted in a radical feminist point of view. Its definition of 'trafficking' includes all forms of selling or buying bodies of women or children. CATW opposes a distinction between forced and voluntary prostitution as it sees all forms of prostitution as a violation of the dignity of women and violence against them. In this regard, it is strongly opposed to the perspectives of the Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women and the sex workers' rights movement. Aside from prostitution, CATW is opposed to "pornography, sex tourism, and mail-order bride selling." On its website, CATW categorizes sexual exploitation as including sexual harassment, rape, incest and battery. CATW was set up in 1988.
The coalition’s proposed solution to the problem of human trafficking and sexual exploitation is to decriminalize the selling of sexual services while criminalizing the buying of sexual services, pimping and trafficking. This approach, sometimes referred to as the "Swedish model" or "Nordic model", has been implemented in Sweden, Norway and Iceland, partly as a result of lobbying by CATW-affiliated activists in those countries. CATW views these laws as successful in combating prostitution and human trafficking and lobbies for the replication of such legislation elsewhere.
CATW also claims to “reject state policies and practices that channel women into conditions of sexual exploitation" … and “provide education and employment opportunities that enhance women’s worth and status”.
CATW was founded 1988 as the outcome of a conference titled "Trafficking in Women" organized by several American feminist groups including Women Against Pornography and WHISPER. The leaders of CATW, such as founder Dorchen Leidholdt and co-chair (as of 2007) Norma Ramos were originally leaders of Women Against Pornography.
CATW was the first international non-governmental organization (NGO) working against trafficking and gained consultative status with ECOSOC (UN) in 1989. The CATW has influenced anti-sex industry and anti-trafficking legislation in places all over the world, including the Philippines, Venezuela, Bangladesh, Japan, Sweden and the United States.
In 2008, the Coalition supported the campaign to defeat San Francisco's Proposition K, which was a proposition that called for the full decriminalization of prostitution. CATW also encouraged its followers to get television network HBO to stop airing shows like Cathouse, which it claims promote sex trafficking and prostitution. In 2008, CATW held a discussion at the New York City Bar Association on the laws in Sweden and the US governing prostitution and human trafficking entitled, “Abolishing Sex Slavery: From Stockholm to Hunts Point”. The discussion also worked to implement more trafficking laws in Sweden.
The organization consists of regional networks and affiliated groups. It is an umbrella organization that is directed by the regional networks. The organization has what it describes as "national coalitions" in countries including the Philippines, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Thailand, Venezuela, Puerto Rico, Chile, Canada, Norway, France and Greece.
After the “Conference on Women Empowering Women: A Human Rights Conference on Trafficking in Asian Women” held in Manila, Philippines, in April 1993, CATW created an Asia Pacific chapter. The Australian branch of CATW is also part of the Asia Pacific chapter. The Australian branch is for women only. Other branches can be found in Africa, Europe, Norway, Northern Norway, Latin America and the Caribbean islands.
CATW is an organization subscribing to a "low-risk activism," meaning it claims to use tactics that typically do not disrupt the public or otherwise lead to disobedience. It tends to pursue objectives by fundraising to provide safe houses for victims and to purchase other resources. It schedules and attends meetings with the targets of their lobbying efforts (mainly countries which it regards as having lax or no human trafficking laws) and politicians to submit resolutions and enact legislation against sexual exploitation and other forms of human trafficking. It also publicizes its efforts via its Web site and various human rights and anti-human trafficking organizations.
CATW lobbies students and communities all over the globe. It stages "training" sessions for educators, law enforcement and government officials, and community leaders and testifies before national congresses, parliaments, law reform commissions, and regional and United Nations committees.
Campaigns, Programs and Projects
The following is a list and brief description of some of CATW’s global campaigns:
- Measures to Combat Trafficking in Human Beings – addresses perceived gaps in current anti-trafficking programs and policies with a focus on gender equality, demand and the links between trafficking and prostitution (some participating countries include Albania, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic)
- The Prevention Project – multi-tiered project to prevent sex trafficking and sexual exploitation by developing standard practices (some participating countries include Italy, Nigeria, Mali, Mexico, the Republic of Georgia)
- Project to Curb Male Demand for Prostitution (some participating countries include the Baltic Countries, India, the Philippines)
- Human Rights Documentation Project – conducts training sessions that instruct women’s organizations in what the organization describes as "feminist research methods."
- "Coalition Against Trafficking in Women". Retrieved 2005-12-15.