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Ruchira Gupta speaking at the United Nations, Oct. 27th, Palermo Protocol

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Our last speaker before we go into the interactive portion with all of you And I like how the Pulitzer prize-winning New York Times writer Nicholas Kristof describes her. And that is "every bit as intimidating as any brothel owner." And that is Ruchira Gupta. When first came to UNODC about 10 years ago, I was organizing an arria formula in the security council, and, you know, in the arria formula it's an informal security council kind of side of it meeting where you can discuss, in a frank matter, issues of concern and so we had this idea, let's do one on human trafficking and we had to find a NGO that would be able to brief the council on this issue and we looked at all the various names and the one name that everybody told me you have to have at this meeting was Ruchira Gupta. And I've learned so much from her over the years. She has been a great supporter of UNODC's work. She is responsible for 20,000 girls exiting sex trafficking. She recently is bestowed the honor of the French Legion d'Honneur She has won the Clinton Global Citizen Award. She has won so many awards that it would take too long to brief you on that. She is the founder of Apne Aap Women Worldwide. She has testified to the US Senate on the passage of the first US trafficking protection act. When we launched the voluntary trust fund with Mr. Fedotov, you where there Ruchira, on behalf of the NGO community, with us You won an Emmy, you were a journalist before, covering these issues. And now a visiting professor at NYU And the author of two anthologies: River of Flesh and Other Stories, and the Essential Gloria Steinem Reader. I believe there may be a few copies left at the bookstore, for those who want signed copies. Article 9 of the Palermo Protocol stresses the importance of civil society's work on this issue and so we're very honored to have you here with us today, Ruchira you have the floor. Thank you Simone and thank you Dr. Fedotov for your leadership over the past decade on this issue which is so important to all of us and so urgent a problem that needs addressing Thank you to the ambassadors of Liechtenstein, Slovenia, Austria, and Switzerland for hosting this event and for your remarks coming forward on the issue of how trafficking can become almost a form of genocide for so many young girls, who are consumed in these brothels and sex factories across the world, for cheap labor and how migration and trafficking have, in recent years, become so intertwined, where the most vulnerable are used by traffickers and consumed by traffickers. I'm also pleased, today, that after two decades we all are here still looking at this issue and we have success to report that the ratification of the Palermo Protocol is almost universal and we have 170 countries on board who are part of our journey and who have committed to fighting human trafficking As Dr. Fedotov said that now the problem is implementation and how do we get the rest of the countries to sign on and how do we implement it. The sustainable development goals are a unique opportunity to us, to see the interconnection of human trafficking with every other problem that the sustainable development goals outline and commits to addressing. Prevention, protection, and prostitution are the three- the framework under which we look at the Palermo Protocol and see how we can address it. The Palermo Protocol uniquely for the first time, put forward the fact that we need to address the demand for human trafficking and it shifted the blame from the victim to the perpetrator. And by doing so, it called on countries all over the world to change their laws to decriminalize women and girls who are often blamed stigmatized, but also liable for criminal punishment for trafficking and instead shifted it to the traffickers, and in some countries to johns and other kinds of consumers. And what that has done is that it has brought forward victims of human trafficking to speak up as witnesses, to talk about what is happening and make this problem visible as a global human rights crisis So, the Palermo Protocol has already achieved a lot in its nearly two decades of existence, and UNODC's leadership in this has been invaluable. In terms of prosecution and protection. The other part which we talk about protection and again Dr. Dieng spoke very eloquently about it, is the fact that very often victims of trafficking are re-victimized, and I have been witness to this. So even as Simone was talking about the fact that I've helped 20,000 girls and women exit systems of slavery, sexual slavery, the fact is that many of them have actually been re-victimized have committed suicide, have been murdered, have been re-trafficked and because of lack of services and protection mechanisms. So implementation is a big challenge and the next decade is about how do we implement all the beautiful things that we have put into the Palermo Protocol based on the universal declaration of human rights and very often a girl or a woman gets re-trafficked Simply because, not just because there are no services, but also because there is no political will to protect her. She's considered disposable. She is considered the person to blame. Very often, she's defined as the bad girl. And so education and awareness have to go along with- even as we try to get the Palermo Protocol implemented through the laws in different countries. And of course, resources resources in terms of money and, again, UNODC has shown the lead in that by setting up a trafficking fund for survivors, but each country has to follow the lead and also create trafficking funds for survivors so that survivors get some support to be able to begin new lives again. And protection also requires legal protection it also requires police protection, and very often in most countries there is just no capacity and no resources to be able to provide the legal protection to victims of trafficking to combat traffickers and sometimes, you know I am from India and I've seen that in very small towns, in Bihar in India the police officer may not even have a car to chase a trafficker may not even have gas to put into the car to chase a trafficker. And will be waiting around in a police station for 4 hours in the meantime, the traffickers are much more organized and they were across the border, into Nepal, and gone away. So, in terms of convictions, yes we know that there is a low rate of conviction and we do understand that political will is one of the biggest problems But also resources need to be matched, and as Lichtenstein today has offered us the opportunity to talk about how do we achieve universal ratification of the Protocol. We also have to think about how can we back it with money. Traffickers are much more organized and one of my panelists today spoke about the fact that we have to follow the money. It's the second largest crime in terms of the billions of dollars that it generates for those involved in it in terms of profit. And it follows only the drugs trade and, or maybe the arms trade, and comes very close to the two of them so we really have to see how can we put in more money and direct it towards helping victims of trafficking, but also directed, at the same time, to prosecution and protection. In terms of prevention, besides the three points- the three sustainable development goals, that Simone mentions: 16.6, 8.7, and 5.2 Every single sustainable development goal actually will affect the prevention of a potential victim of trafficking. Because, again, the UN protocol put forward something very unique to the world. It made us realize that trafficking is often absence of choice. It's not a choice. It could be a survival strategy. It is absence of choice. And it used the term vulnerability and vulnerability, it went into very much into talking about the intersection of inequalities from poverty to caste to ethnicity to race. There are fixed things and then there were variable like conflict and disasters, natural disasters and other things which affect women and girls and make them vulnerable to traffickers So the UN protocol, in fact, also put into that the choice of a victim to be trafficked is irrelevant to her being defined as a victim. And that is very important for us to think about as we go forward that why did the UN protocol put in the fact that choice is irrelevant. The reason being that it wants us to address each country and each countries policies and the UN family to address these vulnerabilities. And that is embedded in the sustainable development goals from education to housing to legal protection to simply, even jobs, livelihoods which are sustainable and dignified and not based on body penetration, especially where I work in on the issue of prostitution I see body invasion 13 year old girls which simply consumes them and they are dead by the time they are 30 or 35 From diseases and sometimes suicides. So, based on this framework, that the universal declaration has offered us, and the UN protocol has offered us, we have this unique moment in history to be part of a new movement against slavey, modern form of slavery again Dr. Dieng said, and in our generation we have achieved so much. We have brought down the Berlin Wall, we have ended apartheid, we haven't had a world war. We've had wars, and we're dealing with the consequences of the conflict in different parts of the globe, but we have achieved a lot in our generation. And the last frontier for us, I believe, is to create a world in which no human being is bought or sold. In which there is no more human trafficking. So it really is an honor to be on this panel with all of you to discuss how we can create that world and how we can keep improving on our achievements. And not letting them slip away just because we feel it's like a tsunami And before I end I want to think about the 13 year old who I work with, across India, she could be anywhere. I call her the Last Girl. Because she is poor, she's female, she's a teenager, in India she's low caste. In American she's black or Native American. In Europe or the Middle East she could be a refugee. She has no way to get out of that brothel, unless we go in and help her. She's locked in that little room with iron bars on the window, 8 or 10 men come into the room and rape her every night for five years, till she is no longer commercially viable because her body is used up, and then she's thrown out on the sidewalk to die. That is the girl we have to think about when we think about ending human trafficking and why we are here. The numbers are huge, we can't even name them because so much of the trade is underground. But we all know it's huge, as a global human family. And I want to end with quoting Mahatma Gandhi. I'm from India and I can see the beauty of the freedom struggle and the benefits of it as someone born after independence in a post colonial India. And how can we achieve that freedom for everyone. Gandhi had two things which I will mention. One was that Gandhi said that whenever he thought and felt lost about any action that he would undertake and whether to embark on an interventional policy, which would be useful or not, he would shut his eyes and think about the weakest person he knew and he called that person the last person. And he said if that action had an impact on the life of that weakest person, he would do it. For us, that weakest person is the Last Girl. And so, therefore, I'm really glad that we are here to do it. The other thing Gandhi mentioned, Mountbatten asked him after the freedom struggle when India was going to be independent, that week he said Mr. Gandhi how did you create such a big movement, and Gandhi said, "I did not create a movement. I joined movements." So I thank UNODC for joining our movement to end human trafficking on behalf of NGOs and civil society representatives and survivors all over the world who still continue to look to your leadership. Thank you.

Video Details

Duration: 14 minutes and 40 seconds
Language: English
License: Dotsub - Standard License
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Views: 0
Posted by: us_apneaap on Jul 15, 2019

At the United Nations Headquarters on October 27th, a discussion: "Countering Human Trafficking: Achieving Universal Ratification of the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children ("The Palermo Protocol")

Featuring among others:
• H.E. Ambassador Christian Wenaweser, Permanent Representative of Liechtenstein to the UN
• Mr. Yury Fedotov, Executive-Director of UNODC
• Mr. Adama Dieng, Under Secretary-General and Special Advisor on the Prevention of Genocide
• Ms. Ruchira Gupta, Founder, Apne Aap Women Worldwide
• Moderated by: Ms. Simone Monasebian, Director, UNODC NY Office

Video recording provided by: United Nations Audio Visual Library

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