Study on the gender dimension of trafficking in human beings - final report

Walby, Sylvia, Apitzsch, Birgit, Armstrong, Jo, Balderston, Susie, Follis, Karolina, Francis, Brian, Kelly, Liz, May-Chahal, Corinne, Rashid, Awais, Shire, Karen, Towers, Jude and Tunte, Markus (2016) Study on the gender dimension of trafficking in human beings - final report. Project Report. Publications Office of the European Union, Luxembourg.


The purpose of this study is to contribute to the identification and understanding of what it means to be ‘taking into account the gender perspective, to strengthen the prevention of this crime and protection of the victims thereof’, as required in Article 1 of European Union (EU) Directive 2011/36/EU on Preventing and Combating Trafficking in Human Beings and Protecting its Victims in the context of the EU Strategy (COM(2012) 286 final) Towards the Eradication of Trafficking in Human Beings.

The study contributes to Priority E Action 2 of the Strategy, which states that ‘the Commission will develop knowledge on the gender dimensions of human trafficking, including the gender consequences of the various forms of trafficking and potential differences in the vulnerability of men and women to victimisation and its impact on them.’ Its specific objectives and tasks are to address: the ‘gender dimension of vulnerability, recruitment, and victimisation’; ‘gender issues related to traffickers and to those creating demand’; and ‘an examination of law and policy responses on trafficking in human beings from a gender perspective’. The study addresses the five priorities of the EU Strategy: identifying, protecting, and assisting victims of trafficking; stepping up the prevention of trafficking in human beings; better law enforcement; enhanced coordination and cooperation among key actors and policy coherence; and increased knowledge of an effective response to emerging concerns.

This study, according to its terms of reference, aims to look specifically at the gender dimension of trafficking for the purpose of sexual exploitation. This follows evidence from statistical data from Eurostat, as well as data from The European Police Office (Europol) and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), according to which the most reported form of exploitation of victims is that of sexual exploitation and its strong gender dimension (96 % women and girls). It further addresses recommendations addressed in the Resolution of the European Parliament of 26 February 2014 on sexual exploitation and prostitution and its impact on gender equality (2013/2103(INI)) urging the European Commission to evaluate the impact that the European legal framework designed to eliminate trafficking for sexual exploitation has had to date and to undertake further research on patterns of prostitution, on human trafficking for the purpose of sexual exploitation and on the increased level of sex tourism in the EU, with particular reference to minors, and to promote the exchange of best practices among the Member States.

The study identifies and draws on EU law and policy competence in gender equality in its identification of the gender dimensions of trafficking. The gender dimensions are clustered into five issues: gender specificity and equal treatment; gender expertise, gender balance in decision-making and gender mainstreaming; the relationship between prostitution and trafficking; gendered policy fields and strategic priorities; gendered systems and the theory of prevention.

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