Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women

Human Rights
at home, abroad and on the way...


Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women

Human Rights
at home, abroad and on the way...

Event invitation: Launch of Anti-Trafficking Review Issue 5

AntiTraffickingReview web

Tuesday, 29 September, 18:00-20:00

Valley Room, Shangri-La Hotel, Bangkok

‘Human Trafficking and Forced Labour’, issue 5, Anti-Trafficking Review

The new issue of GAATW’s journal the Anti-Trafficking Review looks at ‘Forced Labour and Human Trafficking’.

Authors in this issue - both academics and practitioners - review how the global community is addressing forced labour and trafficking. In 2014, governments across the globe committed to combat forced labour through a new international agreement, the ILO Forced Labour Protocol. But are recent efforts enough?

With case studies from diverse regions and countries including Southeast Asia, Brazil, India, Italy, the United Kingdom and United States of America, this issue features a mix of academic articles, a new ‘policy and practice’ section, as well as short debate pieces which respond to the question: Should we distinguish between forced labour, trafficking and slavery?

The Review and all articles will be freely available online after 29 September at

‘I am not here’, a short film by OHCHR

We are pleased to screen a new film ‘I am Not Here’, which tells the stories of three undocumented migrant domestic workers in three cities around the world.

Migrant domestic workers in an irregular situation are unseen and unheard. They work behind closed doors, at risk of exploitation by their employers or by others, but afraid or unable to complain to the authorities. They have no papers. Their stories are untold.

For more information about the event, please see the flyer

The Global Alliance Against Traffic of Women (GAATW) invites applications for a media workshop, ‘Women: Agents Of Change Or Victims Of Abuse? : Reporting Labour Migration’

Up to 20 journalists will receive support to participate in a four-day workshop in Bangkok on 3-6 October 2015. The proposed workshop is a part of GAATW’s efforts to bring back the focus on women migrants from victims and sensationalised objects to agents of change, and subjects of hope, determination, and self-reliance.  Following the workshop in October, 8 participants will be selected by November 2015, for fellowships to publish five stories each on labour migration and human trafficking. Each awardee will be expected to produce and publish (at least) 2 x 800-word articles, and 3 x 1,200- word articles.

The workshop is open to mid-level to senior journalists from the print media in Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Sri Lanka, reporting in English or the regional languages. The cost of travel and accommodation to attend the workshop will be supported by GAATW.


Applications should be submitted latest by 05 September 2015. Selected applicants will be notified of their selection by 15 September 2015. Incomplete or late applications will not be considered.

To apply, please email us at <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; with the following information:

Professional profile

Provide a short profile (no more than 100 words) that summarizes your professional career including your current position (work title/news organization, if appropriate); publications that you have written for and/or other news organizations that you have worked for; journalism awards you have won; beats and issues that you cover; special interests, etc.

Work Samples

Send us 3 samples of published work, including publication dates, in either a single or multiple PDFs or Word documents. If your work samples are not in English, please include a summary of their contents in English.

Personal Statement

In addition to the above, we ask you to provide us a 500-word personal statement explaining why you think you are eligible for this workshop. The note may include your journalistic experiences, values and interests that influence your decision to apply for this workshop. It should also explain how your proposed articles or course of research could have impact on bringing back the focus on women migrants as agents of change.






As a consequence of several factors including globalisation, people are moving across borders in unprecedented numbers. Women in particular, are crossing international borders as never before in history. Across South Asia they leave their homes in search of better lives and livelihoods in the hope of improving their economic and social status. Even as international migration is increasingly feminised, women migrants often end up in low-paid, low-skilled work with few or no labour rights. Studies show that women from countries of the sub-region are employed in affluent countries of the Middle East in poorly- paid jobs including in the garment industry and in domestic work. They routinely work in the latter as nannies, having left their own children behind paradoxically to be taken care of by their own family members.

Unfortunately, exploitation and trafficking have become signature characteristics of labour migration of both women and men. The gender blind policies, high-costs, time-consuming procedures and stringent visa restrictions for emigration push the less-privileged to resort to illegal and unsafe means of travel in the form of undocumented migration; in the process, women are abused and exploited by agents and criminal employers. Sending States seem to be playing an ambiguous and questionable role in the process of labour migration; on the one hand they are promoting it as an employment option and a foreign exchange earner, and on the other, reneging on their responsibility to protect the rights of their migrant workers and citizens. Most countries of origin and destination have weak labour laws with many female-dominated jobs falling outside the purview of the labour sector and laws. When abuse is reported, many South Asian countries respond with protectionist restrictions on women’s mobility rather than stepping up measures to protect and strengthen women’s rights.

The media plays a crucial role in shaping public perception about migrants, migration regimes and state agencies that facilitate migration. As such, the role of the media is also seminal in influencing migration policies. However, journalists reporting on complex issues such as labour, poverty, migration, rights and rights violations especially of the marginalised, often portray migrants, especially women migrants, only as victims. Media reports tend to be sensational while reporting abuse, and represent women migrants as passive, powerless objects.  Undoubtedly, trafficking of human beings is a gross human rights violation that requires serious media attention for often women may be in the way of grievous harm as a result of it. However, media focus should remain on providing redress to the trafficked persons with a view to restoring her rights and ending such a practice rather than on sensationalizing misery or objectifying her. It is important to also keep in mind that while reporting on migration and trafficking, the role of the media  not be aimed at surveillance, regulating cross border migration and women's mobility but rather at reflecting the lived reality and diverse experience of women migrants as subjects rather than as objects. This includes the story of their entrepreneurial spirit and courage in negotiating and overcoming enormous difficulties to carve out a better life for themselves and their families.

How can media report beyond the binaries and stereotypes  - women as trafficked victims and men as workers, women as sexual slaves; undesirable economic migrants and indigent refugees fleeing egregious violence? How does international capital engender pauperisation, displacement and migration? What are the links between global capitalism and migration, both legal and undocumented? Why and under what conditions do States and corporations support the demand of legal status for undocumented immigrants?  What are the factors that propel women to risk their lives in order to seek a better future in the Middle East and elsewhere? Are these motivations merely economic or are they also to escape oppression in families and communities? Do these migratory flows continue when the reality at the destination point is revealed? Have we ignored success stories of migrants who have made a better life for themselves and their families? What factors contribute to these successes? Who and where are the heroes of migration rather than only “survivors” of trafficking? How can these narratives of journeys, adventures, and courage be told in ways that validate the women and their lives?


The Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women (GAATW) is a network of more than 120 non-governmental organisations working on the issue of human rights in the context of labour migration, especially female labour migration. We began our work 20-years ago by listening to the stories of migrating women, their dreams, aspirations, fears, and frustrations. Over the years we have met many women who have gone through adverse terrible experiences in the course of their journeys and yet have not given up.  It is their strength and courage that has inspired us to continue our advocacy for social change.

The Workshop

The proposed four-day media workshop in Bangkok  is a part of GAATW’s efforts to bring back the focus on women migrants from victims and sensationalised objects to agents of change, and subjects of hope, determination, and self-reliance.

General Objectives

  • Bring together print journalists from Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Sri Lanka, writing in English and regional languages, to share and analyse the way women migrants are portrayed and to better understand  from journalists, what drives a story and how articles are framed.
  • Develop a concrete plan to strengthen  affirmative and realistic reporting on labour migration, which captures the diversity of migrant women's lived experiences and their role in transforming their families, communities as well as their own individual lives.
  • In consultation with the print journalists, civil society activists and experts, identify ways to build knowledge on women’s migration and changing patterns  as well as related issues, from a human- rights perspective.
  • Create a platform for sharing knowledge and expertise, as well as discuss learning opportunities for strengthening the quality of reporting through an enhanced focus on accuracy, fairness, balance, human rights and representation of migrant women in the media.

Specific Objective

  • It is envisaged that following the workshop, GAATW will award scholarships to selected participating journalists to produce five articles on the migration of women in collaboration with project partners in each country. The awardees will be chosen for their demonstrated reporting skills from a human- rights perspective.

Key Criteria for selection

  • This initiative is aimed at mid-level to senior journalists from the print media in Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Sri Lanka.
  • Selected journalists may report in English or the regional languages.
  • Selection will be based upon writing samples and interest in the issue.
  • Following the meeting, 8 participants will be selected for scholarships to publish five stories each on labour migration and human trafficking. Each awardee will be expected to produce and publish (at least) 2 x 800-word articles, and 3 x 1,200-word articles.


  • August - September 2015: Publication of the invitation and Call for Applications. Deadline for receiving applications - 5 September. 
  • October 2015: A three-day workshop and will take place in the beginning of October 2015, in Bangkok, Thailand.
  • November 2015: Announcement of the Scholarship to 8 participants to publish five stories on labour migration and human trafficking.
  • December 2016: Scholarship awardees will be expected to produce and publish the five stories by the end of 2016.


'Trafficking Representations' Call for Papers, Anti-Trafficking Review Thematic Issue

Deadline for Submission: 8 January 2016

The Anti-Trafficking Review calls for papers for a themed issue entitled 'Trafficking Representations.' Work that migrants do in the sex industry and other irregular employment sectors is increasingly characterised as exploitation and trafficking. Representations of trafficking and forced labour are pervasive within media, policymaking, and humanitarian debates, discourses and interventions. Of late, the notion of 'modern slavery' is on show in campaigns aiming to raise funds and awareness about anti-trafficking among corporate and local enterprises and the general public. Celebrity interventions, militant documentaries, artistic works and fiction films have all become powerful vectors of distribution of the trafficking and 'modern slavery' rhetoric. These offer simplistic solutions to complex issues without challenging the structural and causal factors of inequality. They also tend to entrench racialised narratives; present a narrow depiction of an 'authentic victim;' and confuse sex work with trafficking. Such representations play a key role in legitimising oftentimes problematic rescue operations that can involve criminalisation, detention and arrest of both non-trafficked and trafficked persons as well a justifying restrictive labour and migration laws that exacerbate migrants' precarious living and work situations.

This issue of the Anti-Trafficking Review will seek to explore the specific ways in which different forms of representation erase the complexity of the life trajectories of people who have experienced trafficking, as well as those of migrants, women, sex workers and others who are labelled as trafficked according to the rhetoric of neoliberal humanitarianism. At the same time, the special issue is interested in ways in which popular representations of trafficking and modern slavery have weakened the efforts to gain a better understanding of how social, economic and political inequalities and labour exploitation are produced and maintained in various locations.

In addition, this issue also welcomes alternative artistic, scholarly and activist attempts to produce counter-representations of trafficking and 'modern slavery' in films, literature, art, theatre and social media, as well as reflections on those.

Authors may be interested in addressing the following themes:

  • The embedding of anti-trafficking campaigns within corporate marketing and social responsibility campaigns including the creation of goods made by formerly trafficked persons
  • The use of interactive technology to promote anti-trafficking representations and fundraising
  • Political representations of trafficking and anti-trafficking, including in social activism
  • The impact of the reframing of trafficking as 'modern slavery' in popular discourse on trafficked persons and on others also affected by anti-trafficking campaigns and interventions
  • The human rights implications of the representations of sex workers only as victims of trafficking
  • The politics, aesthetics, and ethics of documentary and artistic representations and counter-representations of trafficking
  • Fictional and documentary representations of trafficking being used as evidence in public debates and in court
  • Resisting anti-trafficking through art, celebrity and other spectacular forms of anti-trafficking humanitarianism
  • The disjuncture between representations of trafficking and the everyday lived realities of potentially and actually trafficked persons including their own self-representations.

The Review promotes a human rights based approach to anti-trafficking, exploring anti-trafficking in a broader context including gender analyses and intersections with labour and migrant rights. Academics, practitioners, trafficked persons and advocates are invited to submit articles. Contributions from those living and working in developing countries are particularly welcome. The journal is a freely available, open access publication with a readership in over 100 countries. The Anti-Trafficking Review is abstracted/indexed/ tracked in: ProQuest, Ebsco Host, Ulrich's, Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association, Directory of Open Access Journals, WorldCat, Google Scholar and CrossRef.

Deadline for submission: 8 January 2016

Word count for submissions: 4,000 - 6,000 words, including footnotes, author bio and abstract

Special Issue to be published in Autumn 2016

We advise those interested in submitting to follow the Review's style guide and submission procedures, available here.

Manuscripts should be submitted in line with the issue's theme. Email the editorial team at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with any queries.

Thematic Issue Guest Editors: Rutvica Andrijasevic, University of Bristol, and Nicola Mai, London Metropolitan University and University of Aix-Marseille (LAMES).

Editor: Rebecca Napier-Moore


GAATW International Secretariat expresses condolences following Nepal earthquake


GAATW-IS would like to express our deepest condolences to all those affected by the earthquake in Nepal this weekend. The loss of life, personal and public property including monuments of national heritage is unimaginable. Our thoughts and prayers are with our members, partners and friends in Nepal, WOREC, Shakti Samuha and all other members of the Alliance Against Trafficking in Women and Children in Nepal (AATWIN), Pourakhi, ABC-Nepal and People's Forum.

We are saddened at the loss of one of our colleagues, Bhawani Shiwokoti from Pourakhi. We had visited her in Dolakha recently and again met up in Godavari as part of our project work, and it is impossible to believe that someone as full of life as her is no longer with us. Our thoughts are with Bhawani's family.

Even as news of the devastation and recurring aftershocks are reaching us, we have been able to get in touch with many of our friends in Nepal. We are relieved to know that they are safe.

We commend the governments, humanitarian agencies, private companies, UN agencies, NGOs and individuals who have come forward to help people in Nepal and support them to face this disaster. We are heartened to hear the stories of volunteers who have been working day and night to rescue people, take them to the hospital or even to give them a decent cremation. It is reassuring to hear that the spirit of mutual support is strong and people are coming up with timely initiatives such as community kitchens and first aid centres.

The International Committee of the Red Cross has set up a website where you can search for the names of missing relatives and friends in Nepal.

If you would like to make a donation to help victims of the earthquake, please get in touch with aid agencies in your country. A short list is provided by the New York Times here


Landmark legislation on human trafficking adopted 15 years ago, but harmful anti-trafficking laws and practices persist and are set to continue – GAATW says

Embargoed until 03:00 GMT, Wednesday 15 April 2015

15th Anniversary of the UN Trafficking Protocol

The UN Trafficking Protocol is praised as landmark international legislation against human trafficking, however 15 years after its adoption trafficked persons have seen little benefit and in some countries national laws cause more harm than good – says the Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women (GAATW) on the launch of the Anti-Trafficking Review, issue 4.

The new issue of the Anti-Trafficking Review looks at the impact of the Trafficking Protocol (in full: Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children) and questions whether the 15th anniversary is a time to celebrate progress in anti-trafficking or address the problems it has caused.

'The Trafficking Protocol may represent an important moment in global anti-trafficking work, however 15 years of legislation and programming have not done enough to protect the human rights of trafficked people,' says Bandana Pattanaik, GAATW International Coordinator, 'Rather, governments have sought to protect their borders and criminalise sex work in the name of ending trafficking and to the detriment of migrant workers and people who have been trafficked.'

GAATW participated in the negotiations on the Trafficking Protocol 15 years ago, and succeeded in advocating for a definition of trafficking which included all types of work or services and all genders – rather than the previous definition which focused on trafficking in women alone and only on prostitution. The Trafficking Protocol also created a framework for addressing trafficking in persons where previously none existed.

Several of the articles in the journal highlight successes and problems with country-specific case studies. Anti-trafficking efforts have often focused too much on migration which has distracted states from the crucial aim of ending forced labour and slavery-like exploitation, as an article by independent expert Marjan Wijers argues. Kathryn Baer, of the Trafficking Research Project, outlines how in Singapore anti-trafficking measures have resulted in increased and problematic criminal convictions of migrant workers, but have failed to address human rights abuses such as exploitative labour practices. Prabha Kotiswaran (Senior Lecturer, King's College London, UK) argues in an article on India that by equating sex work with trafficking the government has used the Protocol to target and harm sex workers.

Other case studies from China, Brazil, Norway and Eritrea show how the 'one-size-fits-all' nature of the Protocol and governments' lack of consideration for the social and economic difficulties faced by migrants also lead to ineffective laws and implementation of the Protocol at national level. Laura K Hackney (Program Associate, Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies at Stanford University, USA), for example uses the case of bride trafficking across the Sino-Burmese border to illustrate how in many cases the distinction between consensual marriage and human trafficking is not clear.

On a global level, over 15 years there have been low conviction rates of traffickers and gaps between law-making and law enforcement. Kristiina Kangaspunta, a prominent expert on trafficking with the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), describes the contrast between high rates of legislation against trafficking (only 166 out of 173 countries surveyed by her office have anti-trafficking legislation) and the low rate of convictions (41% of countries with such legislation recorded less than ten convictions in the two-year period between 2010 and 2012).

'While there have been problems with the way that anti-trafficking has been implemented in the last 15 years, there is room in the next 15 for progress,' says Pattanaik, 'A way forward is to ensure that commitment to protect the rights of trafficked persons and all migrant workers is an integral part of all upcoming international commitments, such as the Sustainable Development Goals.'

Unfortunately, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) only mention trafficking in relation to women and to children. While all genders are recognised in the Trafficking Protocol, the SDGs are taking a big step backward in not recognising men who are trafficked, undermining efforts to end trafficking in persons.

Notes to editors:

• Interviews are available with:

  • Rebecca Napier-Moore, Editor, Anti-Trafficking Review
  • Jacqueline Bhabha, Guest Editor, Anti-Trafficking Review
  • Bandana Pattanaik, International Coordinator, GAATW

• The journal includes case studies from Brazil, China/Burma, Eritrea, India, Norway, Singapore, UK, If you are interested in interviewing any of the authors of these particular case studies please let us know.

• To arrange interviews or for an embargoed copy of the journal, please contact:
Rebecca Napier-Moore, Editor, Anti-Trafficking Review, Bangkok, Thailand
Tel: +66 (0) 88893 6068 / Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

• The journal will be available at  on Wednesday 15 April 2015.

• GAATW is holding a launch event for the Anti-Trafficking Review at the United Nations Crime Congress in Doha, Qatar, on 15 April 2015.

• GAATW launched its peer-reviewed journal, the Anti-Trafficking Review, in 2012 to promote quality and critical research into trafficking, and 'anti-trafficking'. The open-access journal explores the issue of trafficking in a broader context including gender analyses and intersections with women's rights, labour rights and migrant rights. It offers a space for dialogue, debate, critique and discussion of best practice for academics and practitioners seeking to communicate new ideas and findings.

• The Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women (GAATW) is a non-profit organisation that works to protect and uphold the human rights of migrating and trafficked women around the world. Representing a global network of more than 120 non-governmental organisations, we focus on the issues of migration, labour and human trafficking, with a special emphasis on women. Our activities involve research, communications and advocacy in order to hold governments accountable, increase access to justice for migrating and trafficked women and further the global debate on the issues.

• In 2016, GAATW will publish an issue of the Anti-Trafficking Review looking at challenges of prosecutions for human trafficking in 2016 – please see the call for papers here