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As the COVID-19 pandemic swept through Ethiopia, the country’s already high unemployment rate increased and travel restrictions obstructed safe migration pathways for thousands of Ethiopians. In a desperate attempt to provide for their families, many turned to people smugglers who promised jobs. For Amen Kifle, her journey ended with three months of imprisonment in a foreign country before she was deported back home.
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Migration can be a life-changing experience, but migrant workers are especially vulnerable to human trafficking and gender-based violence. San May Khine, a social worker in Thailand who was once a migrant worker herself, is supporting other women migrant workers to move past experiences of violence and build a stable and bright future in a COVID-19 world.
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In an op-ed during the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence, UN Women Deputy Executive Director Asa Regner writes: "What this year has shown us is that there are no obstacles too great for traffickers to overcome, so we must reduce the demand at its source."
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Amina Oufroukhi is President of the International Judicial Cooperation Department headed by the Office of the Public Prosecutor of the Kingdom of Morocco.
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Billions of people across the world stand on the right side of history every day. They speak up, take a stand, mobilize, and take big and small actions to advance women’s rights. This is Generation Equality. Racha Haffar, 30, is an award-winning women rights activist from Tunisia, and the founder and president of ‘Not 4 Trade,’ the first anti-human trafficking NGO in Tunisia. She is member of UN Women’s Beijing+25 Youth Task Force.
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Milica Gudović is an activist of the Citizens Association for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings and All Forms of Gender-Based Violence (ATINA). Here she speaks about the work of ATINA which is supported by UN Women with funding from the European Union. With vocational training and business skills, the organization helps survivors of trafficking to reintegrate into society, become independent and and earn an income. ATINA also provides psychosocial support, legal aid and safe-houses for the survivors of trafficking.
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On World Day against Trafficking in Persons, three women survivors tell us their stories. Their words are testament to their incredible resilience and point toward the urgency for action to prosecute perpetrators and support survivors along their journeys to restored dignity, health and hope.
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Through UN Women’s new programme to prevent human trafficking in Cambodia and Myanmar, three friends were able to start their own salon.
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Aung Ja* was 18 when a woman from Myitkina, northern Myanmar, convinced her to take a ‘factory’ job in China. She was rescued in 2017 and is taking part in a UN Women-supported trafficking prevention programme.
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In 2005, Myanmar passed an anti-trafficking law, but trafficking is still rampant in the conflict-affected state, especially in the northern region, where it borders China. A UN Women programme is supporting local partner, Htoi Gender and Development Foundation, in providing legal support and vocational training to survivors.
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Princess Eugenie of York visited grantees of the UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women (UN Trust Fund) in Belgrade, Serbia and was introduced to the work of organizations that are changing the lives of victims/survivors of trafficking in persons for the better.
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Spartak Kosta is a third-year journalism student at the University of History and Philology in Tirana, Albania. He was among the first group of students to take a new university course on the reporting of trafficking of women and girls. The educational course was developed at the recommendation of a UN Women monitoring report. The study finds that journalists often write shallow trafficking stories that lack deep analysis and use unethical language with regards to victims.
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In the 1990s, Marija Andjelkovic worked at a call centre for girls experiencing violence, when she received a training on human trafficking. In those days, trafficking was not a known, researched and understood phenomenon in Serbia which left an institutional vacuum in addressing the needs of survivors. She was one of the first civil society activists to raise the issue of human trafficking in the Balkan region, and went on to become the founder and Director of the Serbian NGO, ASTRA-Anti trafficking action.
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Part 11 in a 16-part blog series by UN Women Executive Director, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka on the occasion of the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence campaign.
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Originally from Tashkent, Uzbekistan, Luiza Karimova left her son with her family and travelled to Osh, Kyrgyzstan to find work. In Kyrgyzstan, she was sold into sex slavery and trafficked into Dubai. After 18 months, she was arrested and sent to jail. Today, Karimova works with Podruga, an organization based in Osh, Kyrgyzstan, which is supported by UN Women. Podruga works to end violence against women and assists women subjected to sex and drug trafficking.
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More than 2,000 girls and women have been abducted by Boko Haram in Nigeria. The international community continues to advocate for their safe return. But after the girls are back, what happens to them? What happens to the children of rape and their young mothers? Hussaina Dahiru, from north-east Nigeria escaped Boko Haram, but tragically died at child birth. A programme by UN Women is working with girls and women who have survived Boko Haram’s attacks and making sure that the humanitarian response addresses their specific and unique needs.
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To support women and girl survivors of trafficking, UN Women in Albania has been supporting service-providers in shelters with capacity-building and salary subsidies under the project “Preventing and addressing violence against women and girls in Albania”, implemented by UN Women with funding from the European Union.
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A three-year anti-trafficking programme supported by the UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women is boosting legal enforcement against the crime in Egypt, Jordan and Morocco.
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In her statement to mark this year’s International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka says “if we all work together: governments, civil society organizations, the UN system, businesses, schools, and individuals mobilizing through new solidarity movements, we will eventually achieve a more equal world—a Planet 50-50—where women and girls can and will live free from violence”.
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Experts believe adopting the new anti-trafficking law will make it easier for authorities to investigate and prosecute this widespread crime.