In honor of International Women's Day, BWJP’s March eNewsletter is dedicated to promoting awareness of women’s human rights in the U.S. and around the world. First we share a perspective on an important issue of global concern: Abusive International Marriages. Then we highlight two influential organizations with Minnesota roots that champion women’s human rights around the world. 

Distinguishing Sex Trafficking from Abusive International Marriage

As the public discourse around sex trafficking has increased substantially over the past several years, and as communities’ have developed more robust responses to it, many advocates have voiced a concern that the label of “sex trafficking” is being applied too loosely and often inaccurately in many situations. Building Our Future (BOF), a grassroots Hmong advocacy organization, with assistance from the Asian Pacific Institute on Gender-Based Violence, drafted an educational brief to address misconceptions that exist around sex trafficking, and distinguish sex trafficking and tourism from the wholly distinct phenomena of Abusive International Marriages (AIM). BOF argues that there are crucial distinctions between the three phenomena, and that mislabeling any survivor’s experience has grave consequences for that survivor, including her relationship to her family and community.

“We know that for survivors of gender-based violence the risks of further harm are not only caused by the perpetrator, but also by the system and community. Knowing this we must be conscious as advocates, leaders, and service providers that for survivors our language (what we label women) have real consequences. The names and labels we use matters.”

Organizational Features

The Advocates for Human Rights 

The Advocates for Human Rights makes the world a safer, better place for women by working tirelessly for sustainable change. In countries throughout the world, The Advocates:

  • provides commentary—at the request of government officials embassies, and NGOs—on new and proposed domestic violence laws that promote women’s safety;
  • monitors and documents women’s human rights violations, including domestic violence, rape, employment discrimination, sexual harassment in the workplace and trafficking in women and girls;
  • trains police, prosecutors, attorneys, judges, and other stakeholders to implement both new and existing domestic violence laws;
  • represents, without charge, women who are fleeing domestic violence, female genital mutilation, ruthless gangs, and persecution in their home countries and seeking asylum in the United States;
  • gives children, particularly girls, an alternative to child labor and a brighter future at its school in Nepal’s Kathmandu Valley; and
  • advocates effectively before the United Nations to make change happen.

The Advocates gets results. For the first time ever, Mongolia now has a law classifying domestic violence as a crime, protecting victims and holding perpetrators accountable. In Croatia, government leaders also passed legislation recently making domestic violence a crime.

Here at home, among other initiatives, The Advocates spearheads action to end sex trafficking, such as ensuring children under 18 years of age are treated as victims―not criminals―and get the help and support they need. And because it takes a community to end sex trafficking, The Advocates developed the Sex Trafficking and Safe Harbor Resource Pack to provide accessible, consistent information about sex trafficking and Minnesota’s Safe Harbor law.

Additional information about The Advocates' work may be found at the Stop Violence Against Women website (STOPVAW), a project of The Advocates for Human Rights.

Global Rights for Women

Global Rights for Women (GRW) works with partners around the world to achieve women’s human rights of equality and freedom from violence. When GRW trains legal professionals and advocates in Moldova, Lithuania, Serbia (or any of the other countries it works in) it promotes the Duluth Model and Minnesota’s experience of more than 40 years developing and honing laws to protect women and best practices for their implementation. 

On March 15, GRW presented a panel on Coordinated Community Responses at the Commission on the Status of Women meeting (CSW) in New York. Later in March, GRW, in partnership with the Domestic Abuse Intervention Programs and the World Future Council (Hamburg), will welcome advocates and government officials from different countries for a workshop on CCRs. Visitors will travel to Duluth, Minnesota, where participants will learn from those who created and continue to develop the Duluth Model.

Global Rights for Women is spreading the message that implementation of laws and policies to protect women from violence is most effective when they are part of a community-wide strategy that ensures all members of the community respond in a consistent way and are held accountable for their responses. With partners like the Domestic Abuse Intervention Programs and international partners like the World Future Council, Global Rights for Women will continue to help advocates and legal professionals keep women safe from violence.