The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) released its 2006 State of the World Population report yesterday in a morning briefing in Washington, DC, emphasizing the importance of women’s issues and international migration. According to the report, women migrants typically leave their native countries to escape the oppression they face and to gain freedom in a new country. However, while half of all migrants are women, they often face double discrimination because of their gender and their foreign-born status. Approximately one-third of households headed by foreign-born women are at or below the poverty line. Often the sole or primary providers, women also tend to contribute the majority of the $232 billion that migrants send back to their families in their home countries every year, said Maria Jose Alcala, principal author of the report.
The panel of speakers releasing the report also focused on trafficking, to which migrant women are often susceptible. Luring migrants to a new country through false promises of legitimate jobs and protection, traffickers expose victims to violence and unsafe conditions, according to Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney (D-NY). Women are disproportionately targeted: of the 2.5 million people who are trafficked each year, 80 percent are women, and of these women, 11 percent are forced into sex trafficking, which involves being forced to have sex while enduring violence, rape, and threats of being sent back to their home countries.
The panel’s promotion of more gender specific laws include the “Pimp Tax” law, a current project of Maloney’s. Because federal, state, and local mechanisms to prosecute sex traffickers are weak and difficult to enforce, Maloney proposes that the law investigate and arrest traffickers on tax evasion. Because “pimps” do not pay taxes on the money they make off of trafficked women, Maloney’s law would enable the IRS to become involved. In 2005, Maloney also helped pass the Trafficking Victims Reauthorization Act which better equips US law enforcement officials to study trafficking and enforce laws against traffickers.