Human rights-based approach to sex-trafficking of women and girls: the analysis of prostitution policies in Italy, Sweden, and the Netherlands

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Mancarella, Francesca
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Sex-trafficking is an extremely complex crime that entails issues under criminal law, migration law, and human rights law. Further, it has a gendered nature and it is grounded in structural inequalities, hence the main international organs and institutions have advocated for a human rights-based approach to trafficking. The latter pursues the protection of the victims, addresses the root causes of trafficking, gives priority to human rights and victim-centered policies, and purses the conviction of the traffickers and the redress of the victims. Given that most of the trafficked women and girls are introduced in the prostitution sector, the author examines the main prostitution policies in view of assessing whether they comply with the requirements of a human rights-based approach. Therefore, this study aims to understand which relationship exists between prostitution policies and sex-trafficking, and to assess whether the main policy regimes follow a human rights-based and victim-centered approach. The research focuses on the cases of Italy, Sweden and the Netherlands which respectively constitute examples of the abolitionist, neo-abolitionist, and regulationist model. Italy is the only country ensuring residence permits to the victims regardless of their collaboration to the proceedings; Sweden scores the lowest traffic inflows and establishes several assistance programmes; the Netherlands directs its resources on the control of the legal sector. However, the analysed countries fail to fully implement a human rights-based and victim-centered approach given that they often pursue a salvationist approach that considers trafficked women and girls as helpless victims. Further, they usually follow a criminal justice approach, focusing on the conviction of the traffickers while ignoring the needs of the victims. Therefore, it is recommended to implement the mentioned approach and include the survivors in the drafting process of the response polices.
Second semester University: Uppsala University
trafficking in women, trafficking in young people, sexual exploitation, prostitution, Italy, Sweden, The Netherlands