The Roots of GAATW
The story of GAATW is a women’s story; it is a story of women building alliances across borders. This story also marks a moment of maturity in the feminist movement when women:
Acknowledged that the vision of global sisterhood is fraught with numerous tensions – including those of class, race, sexuality and nationality - and began to understand that they need to listen before speaking on behalf of other women;
Recognised that alliances, feminist or otherwise, are built around unequal power relationships;
Understood that solidarities for political action can only be effective if one is able to negotiate different agendas.
Many of the founding mothers of GAATW are women from the Global South who had personal experiences of migration and displacement. As politically active women, all of them had engaged with issues of violence against women, sex tourism and sexual exploitation of women in the context of armed conflict. Years of working on, or being involved with the situation of migrant women both in countries of origin and destination had led them to rethink issues of migration and trafficking. As migrant women themselves, albeit with comparatively better social privileges, they were drawn into the plight of women from their own countries in the industrialised North.
As care givers, translators, interviewers and advocates in law courts the women, who later founded GAATW, had heard the stories of their compatriots who had undertaken multiple journeys in search of their dreams. Typically, the stories were narrated by women who were in difficult situations. Promises made to them by the agents/recruiters were broken, conditions at work were unbearable, or after years of hard work, they had returned home without much financial gain. However, each story was a testimony to the women’s courage, enterprise and determination. Complex, powerful and open-ended, the stories were challenging the stereotype of the victim as well as the prevailing understanding of trafficking.