Together Against Human Trafficking

Local news, 14.09.2016

On September 13, 2016, the Embassy of Switzerland held a panel discussion on human trafficking in the age of the Internet and online communication in collaboration with the nonprofit nongovernmental organization Vital Voices and multinational technology giant Google. The discussion took place at Google headquarters in Washington, D.C.
Rebecca Angelini, head of public relations and fundraising at FIZ, a Swiss organization which provides advocacy and support for migrant women and victims of trafficking, took part in the discussion.

Rebecca Angelini, head of Public relations and fundraising at FIZ
Rebecca Angelini, head of Public relations and fundraising at FIZ

Rebecca Angelini, what is it that makes women more of a target than men when it comes to human trafficking and makes organizations like FIZ and Vital Voices so necessary and vital?

Rebecca Angelini:  Women are more vulnerable to trafficking because of the global patriarchal structures. Women have a more precarious social positioning because of their gender. They have less access to education, limited options to earn a living, and a lot of responsibilities for their families. But it's not only the precarious situation in their country of origin that makes them more vulnerable to trafficking, but also the demand for cheap female labor in countries of destination—like Switzerland or the U.S.—and a lack of legal avenues for labor migration.


Not all countries face the same challenges in combating human trafficking. How do you see Switzerland’s role in general and that of FIZ in particular?

RA:  Switzerland is a typical country of destination for human trafficking. In Switzerland there's a huge demand for cheap labor. In order to protect migrant women, but also men, from being exploited, we should create more legal avenues for migration and work permits for low-skilled labor. Trafficking is a serious crime and human rights violation. FIZ has the obligation to call attention to this terrible reality that takes place even in Switzerland and has the obligation to fight for the dignity and rights of migrant women that are exploited in our country.


How does it differ from the role of the United States?

RA:  As a destination country for human trafficking, the United States faces similar challenges as Switzerland when it comes to identification and protection of victims, and criminal proceedings against traffickers. 

With its Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report by the U.S. State Department, the country has substantial influence on anti-trafficking policy around the world. Switzerland, for example, only recently prohibited prostitution of minors between 16 and 18, an issue that has also been raised by the TIP Report.


How does FIZ collaborate with Vital Voices and why?

RA:  FIZ benefits a lot from collaborating globally with women's rights networks, such as Vital Voices in the United States focusing on the fight against trafficking. Trafficking is a global phenomenon and can't be fought by one single stakeholder in isolation. Civil society recognized that a long time ago. In order to improve the situation of (exploited) women, we have to work across borders. That’s why panel discussions and meetings such as this most recent one I am taking part in with Vital Voices and Google are crucial to us.