Human Trafficking & IUUF: Legal and Gender Implications

in Gender and the Law of the Sea
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The chapter examines the connection between human trafficking and IUUF and its legal and gender implications, taking into account the shortcomings of international law to effectively combat these phenomena. Interception, boarding, search and seizure of vessels and of goods, and the arrest and rescue of persons onboard would be the clearest response available, particular in those cases where States allow the permissive environment for abuses and violations of human rights to occur. However, outside the principle of flag State preemption, the law of the sea offers limited possibilities for action. Therefore, it is also necessary to consider other legal regimes and in particular international human rights law applicable to human trafficking, in order to attempt bridging the existing enforcement gap. In addition, and similar to most activities at sea, human trafficking and IUUF are strongly dependent on onshore operations, and it is precisely on land that the gender implications become more apparent, seeing that women and girls are forced to work within fishing communities and subject to sexual abuse, while the most part of victims at sea are men and children. In these cases, the effectiveness of human rights protection is bounded by the sovereignty of a State over its territory.

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