Who We Are
CATW is a non-governmental organization that works to end human trafficking and the commercial sexual exploitation of women and children worldwide. CATW is the world’s first organization to fight human trafficking internationally and is the world’s leading abolitionist organization. A unique strength of CATW is that we engage in advocacy, education, victim services and prevention programs for victims of trafficking and prostitution in Asia, Africa, Latin America, Europe, and North America, including in the United States.
Since 1988, CATW has provided widely recognized leadership on local, national, regional, and international levels, in promoting legislative, policy and educational measures to raise awareness about the root causes of human trafficking. CATW holds Special Status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and was a key consultant at the UN Transnational Organized Crime Meeting from 1999-2000 the outcome of which is the Palermo Protocol, the world’s most recognized legal instrument on human trafficking.
Human trafficking is the fastest growing criminal industry in the world. It is tied with arms trafficking as the second largest criminal industry in the world, after drug trafficking (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services).
Several million individuals are victims of human trafficking each year. Of these, 87% are trafficked for the explicit purpose of sexual exploitation. The majority are girls and women (UNODC).
The social, legal, economic, and political inequalities of women and children give rise to sex trafficking. The commercially sexually exploited are most often economically and ethnic/racially marginalized women and children with histories of prior physical and sexual abuse. They are especially vulnerable to human trafficking due to the absence of real, legitimate economic alternatives. Generally speaking, women and children from the most oppressed, exploited and vulnerable groups in society are the most likely to be exploited by traffickers. The demand for women and children for the purposes of commercial sexual exploitation is the most important root cause of trafficking in human beings.
Trafficking for the purpose of sexual exploitation of women and children is a serious, pervasive and growing human rights violation that can and must end in our lifetime.
Human Rights Based Solutions
Creating the legal, political and social conditions that are inhospitable to human trafficking and affording women and children real economic alternatives is how we end human trafficking. We must oppose State policies and practices that channel women into conditions of sexual exploitation. Providing education and employment opportunities that promote women's equality diminishes women’s vulnerability to human trafficking.
The most effective policies are ones that discourage the purchase of human beings for commercial sexual exploitation, and their strategic role in the chain of human trafficking. An effective fight against trafficking means taking legal action against the buyers and anyone who promotes sexual exploitation, particularly pimps, procurers and traffickers.
We must take a principled position against the legalization of prostitution and discourage the demand for commercial sex without penalizing the victims. The wrong people continue to be arrested; the prostituted should be decriminalized. The Nordic Model is the world’s first to recognize prostitution as violence against women and a violation of human rights by criminalizing the purchase of sexual services and offering women and children an exit strategy. These laws are premised on the notion that women are human beings and therefore cannot be bought and sold.
The cultural acceptance and normalization of commercial sexual exploitation fuels the cycle of violence against women. It is essential that men make equality for women and ending all forms of violence against women their political priority. This is how we raise generations of boys to become men who will not exploit women and children.