A former United Nations official came to Washington, DC this week to raise awareness about violence against women and trafficking of women and girls worldwide. Elisabeth Rehn, who has served as Finland’s Defense Minister, an undersecretary general for the UN, an independent expert for the United Nations Fund for Women (UNIFEM), a member of the European Parliament, and as the UN Special Rapporteur for the Situation of Human Rights in several Eastern European countries, asserts that governments and the international community are partly to blame for the problem of trafficking of women. “The real problem is in the fact that the traffickers … are not only trafficking women and girls. They are also in the organized crime, and unfortunately, the corruption in many, many of these post-conflict countries…so those who are in political power also are dependent on the organized crime for financing,” Rehn told Voice of America.
While President Bush, in his speech to the United Nations, highlighted the need for the United States to do more to eradicate trafficking in persons around the world Jodi Jacobsen, executive director of the Center for Health and Gender Equity, said, “The President’s words on humanitarian crises such as human trafficking ring hollow in light of the adverse consequences of this Administration’s policies for women and girls worldwide,” such as family planning and HIV/AIDS.
Elisabeth Rehn and Ellen Johnson recently released a report entitled “Women, War and Peace: The Independent Experts’ Assessment on the Impact of Armed Conflict on Women and Women’s Role in Peace-building.” The report looks at issues such as violence against women, HIV/AIDS, reconstruction and organizing for peace. It also recommends ways to protect and empower women in post-conflict societies.