The Global Alliance Against Trafficking in Women published the report Collateral Damage – The Impact of Anti-Trafficking Measures on Human Rights Around the World.

Eight human rights and trafficking experts were commissioned to look at the policies and practices instituted in one country, and respond to the questions: Have anti-trafficking measures provided scope for a greater number of victims to exercise their human rights more fully in obtaining access to justice and protection from trafficking? Or have prevention initiatives instead had a negative impact on such victims and/or others? The eight countries considered were Australia; Bosnia and Herzegovina; Brazil; India; Nigeria; Thailand; the United Kingdom; and the United States of America.

Together, these case studies point to the conclusion that, while an enormous amount has been done to combat trafficking, anti-trafficking policies and other related policies have in fact harmed the very people they were intended to protect, as well as migrants and sex workers. The reasons for this range from a lack of evidence-based policy-making and a lack of consultation with those that will be affected by the policies, to clearly pushing other agendas, such as stopping migration or suppressing prostitution.

For human rights advocates who work on trafficking, this publication is exciting as it gives us evidence with which to approach governments and to give us direction and strategy in what we ask for. In particular, it impresses upon us that the rights and interests of affected people need to be at the very centre of any policy and practice intended to improve their human rights. All policies must be based on objective evidence and reviewed regularly by talking to those affected by the policies.

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