(New York, NY -- January 20, 2005) -- Hadassah, the Women’s Zionist Organization of America, this week passed a resolution calling upon all nations to make the elimination of the trafficking of women a priority by strengthening anti-trafficking legislation, sharing information, aggressively prosecuting traffickers, and mounting public information campaigns. The resolution, passed at the organization’s annual midwinter board meetings, also urged countries to provide safe havens for victims of trafficking and institute a comprehensive range of social services for their rehabilitation.
“Over the past decade, trafficking in women has reached epidemic proportions, affecting every region of the world,” said June Walker, Hadassah National President. “As an American Zionist women’s organization, we are particularly concerned about the trafficking of women to the U.S. and Israel, but the trafficking of women remains a grave international crisis.
“Trafficking and related crimes not only egregiously violate women’s basic human rights, they also undermine the social, political and economic fabric of the nations where they occur by demeaning women and increasing violence and crime.”
Trafficking in women occurs when women are forced, defrauded or coerced into labor or sexual exploitation within and across local or national borders. International agencies and governmental bodies estimate that each year, over one million women and children are trafficked for the purposes of sexual exploitation alone – a black market estimated at $7 billion annually. Victims of trafficking are subject to kidnapping, enslavement, rape, torture, forced abortions, starvation, and threats of murder or torture of family members.
Hadassah commends both the U.S. and Israel for taking strides towards eliminating the trafficking of women in recent years. In November, 2000, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children and called upon member states to adopt strict legislative measures against trafficking. Even so, experts stress that the trafficking of women can only be eliminated through a worldwide network of cooperation in which information sharing, cracking down on organized crime and the strict prosecution of traffickers are given the highest priority.
Once a resolution is passed by the Hadassah National Board, it provides a platform on which Hadassah develops and operationalizes policy.