Coalition Against Trafficking in Women

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Coalition Against Trafficking in Women

Coalition Against Trafficking in Women (CATW) is an international non-governmental organization opposing human trafficking, prostitution, and other forms of commercial sex.[1]


CATW is rooted in a feminist point of view.[2][3] Its definition of "trafficking" includes all forms of prostitution 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.[3][4] In this regard, it is strongly opposed to the perspectives of the Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women and the sex workers' rights movement.[5] Aside from prostitution, CATW is opposed to "pornography, sex tourism, and mail-order bride selling".[6] On its website, CATW categorizes sexual exploitation as including sexual harassment, rape, incest, and battery. CATW was set up in 1988.[7]

The coalition's proposed solution to the problem of human trafficking and sexual exploitation is to decriminalize the selling of sexual acts, while criminalizing the buying of sexual acts, pimping, brothel-keeping, and trafficking. This approach, sometimes referred to as the "Swedish Model" or "Nordic Model", has been implemented in Sweden, Norway, Iceland, France, Northern Ireland, and Ireland,[8] 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 to "provide education and employment opportunities that enhance women's worth and status".[6]


CATW was founded 1988 as the outcome of a conference titled "First Global Conference Against Trafficking in Women,"[9][10] organized by several American feminist groups, including Women Against Pornography and WHISPER.[11] The leaders of CATW, such as founder Dorchen Leidholdt and co-chair (as of 2007) Norma Ramos, were originally leaders of Women Against Pornography.[11][12]

CATW was the first international non-governmental organization (NGO) working against trafficking,[13] 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.[6]


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.[14] CATW also encouraged its followers to get television network HBO to stop airing shows like Cathouse, which it claims promote sex trafficking and prostitution.[15] 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".[16]


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, Spain, and Greece.[17]

After the "Conference on Women Empowering Women: A Human Rights Conference on Trafficking in Asian Women" held in Manila, Philippines, in April 1993,[18] CATW created an Asia Pacific chapter.[10] 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.[6]


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 fund-raising 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.[6]

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.[6][19]

Campaigns, programs and projects[edit]

The following is a list and brief description of some of CATW's global campaigns:[6][20]

  • 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 prostitution and trafficking (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"

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "CATW - Coalition against trafficking in women". European Commission. Retrieved 29 December 2019.
  2. ^ "Coalition Against Trafficking in Women". Institute of Advanced Legal Studies. 8 February 2019. Retrieved 29 December 2019.
  3. ^ a b Valadier, Charlotte (December 2018). "Migration and Sex Work through a Gender Perspective". Contexto Internacional. 40 (3): 501–524. doi:10.1590/s0102-8529.2018400300005. ISSN 0102-8529.
  4. ^ Santos, Boaventura de Sousa; Gomes, Conceição; Duarte, Madalena (1 October 2010). "The Sexual Trafficking of Women: Representations of Illegality and Victimisation". RCCS Annual Review. A selection from the Portuguese journal Revista Crítica de Ciências Sociais (2). doi:10.4000/rccsar.247. ISSN 1647-3175.
  5. ^ Wijers, Marjan (30 April 2015). "Purity, Victimhood and Agency: Fifteen years of the UN Trafficking Protocol". Anti-Trafficking Review (4). doi:10.14197/atr.20121544.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g "An introduction to CATW". Coalition Against Trafficking in Women. Archived from the original on 2010-06-14. Retrieved 2010-06-22.
  7. ^ "Coalition Against Trafficking in Women" (PDF). Harvard Kennedy School. Retrieved 29 December 2019.
  8. ^ "A new law makes purchase of sex illegal in Iceland". 21 April 2009. Archived from the original on 12 June 2018. Retrieved 25 November 2018.
  9. ^ Suchland, Jennifer (2015). Economies of Violence: Transnational Feminism, Postsocialism, and the Politics of Sex Trafficking. Duke University Press. ISBN 978-0-8223-7528-9.
  10. ^ a b "Evaluation of Coalition Against Trafficking in Women - Asia Pacific - The Philippines". NoradDev. 23 January 2009. Retrieved 29 December 2019.
  11. ^ a b Baker, Carrie N. (2018). Fighting the U.S. Youth Sex Trade: Gender, Race, and Politics. Cambridge University Press. p. 77. ISBN 978-1-316-51022-3.
  12. ^ Leidholdt, Dorchen (2004). "Demand and the Debate". Coalition Against Trafficking in Women. Archived from the original on 2007-12-20.
  13. ^ "Coalition Against Trafficking in Women (CATW) | Cultures of Resistance". Cultures of Resistance. Retrieved 29 December 2019.
  14. ^ Yeung, Bernice (October 20, 2008). "Prop. K: Untested Theories Drive Prostitution Debate | San Francisco Public Press". Retrieved 29 December 2019.
  15. ^ Yerman, Marcia G. (22 April 2008). "Protest Scheduled at HBO Corporate Offices". HuffPost. Retrieved 29 December 2019.
  16. ^ Bernstein, Elizabeth (2019). Brokered Subjects: Sex, Trafficking, and the Politics of Freedom. University of Chicago Press. p. 59. ISBN 978-0-226-57380-9.
  17. ^ "Coalition Against Trafficking in Women - End Slavery Now". End Slavery Now. Retrieved 29 December 2019.
  18. ^ Corrêa, Sonia; Reichmann, Rebecca Lynn; Francisco, Gigi; Reichmann, Rebecca (1994). Population and Reproductive Rights: Feminist Perspectives from the South. Zed Books. p. 117. ISBN 978-1-85649-284-3.
  19. ^ Bahun, Dr Sanja; Rajan, Dr V. G. Julie (2015). Violence and Gender in the Globalized World: The Intimate and the Extimate. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd. p. 194–200. ISBN 978-1-4724-5374-7.
  20. ^ "Coalition Against Trafficking in Women". Retrieved 29 December 2019.

External links[edit]