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Beyond Nationality: A Call for Compassion and Support for All Survivors of Sex Trafficking
Date : 2024.01.25 17:24:55 Hits : 321

Beyond Nationality: A Call for Compassion and Support for All Survivors of Sex Trafficking


The National Human Rights Commission of Korea recommended to the Minister of Gender Equality and Family Affairs that foreign nationals youth who are victims of sex trafficking should be provided with the same level of support as nationals. 


On 13 December 2023, the National Human Rights Commission of Korea (Chairperson Song Doo-hwan, hereinafter referred to as the "NHRCK") recommended to the Minister of Gender Equality and Family Affairs (hereinafter referred to as the "Respondent") that when foreign youth who are victims of sex trafficking are admitted to a shelter for juveniles of sex trafficking victim, △ they should be provided with the same level of support as nationals, △ that they should be provided with the same level of support for their living expenses as the recipients of guaranteed facilities under the Basic Living Security Act, △and that this should be reflected in the "Operation Guidelines for Women's and Children's Rights Promotion Project" of the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family Affairs, in order to ensure that appropriate protective measures are taken for foreign youth who are victims of sex trafficking.


The complainant is a representative of a support center for juvenile sex trafficking victim. The complainant submitted a complaint to the NHRCK alleging that the victim, a foreign national was admitted to a support center for juvenile sex trafficking victim, but was discharged from the center because she was a foreign national and was not granted the right to receive a guaranteed facility under the National Basic Living Security Act, which constituted discrimination against foreign adolescents.


In response, the respondent replied that according to the Guidelines for the Operation of the Project for the Promotion of Women's and Children's Rights, the State and the Correctional Service can enforce costs against residents who are not eligible for guaranteed facilities, and that they provide support for living expenses to prepare for self-sufficiency regardless of whether they are eligible or not, and that they also operate shelters and group homes for migrant women who have been victims of violence.


The Committee on Child Rights noted that domestic adolescent victims of sex trafficking are provided with guaranteed facilities, unless there are special circumstances, and receive support for major expenses, such as living expenses necessary for living in shelters, while no separate financial support is provided to foreign adolescents, which makes it difficult for foreign adolescent victims of sex trafficking to enter shelters, resulting in blind spots in the protection of adolescent victims of sex trafficking.


In addition, the respondent said that there are shelters for migrant women who have been victims of violence, etc., However, these facilities are for adults and focus on victims of domestic violence, also these shelters only provide accommodation for adults for a period of three months and temporarily protect them until they return to their home countries, which is not suitable for adolescents who are victims of trafficking because the purpose of operation, nature and programmes offered are different from shelters for adolescent victims of sex trafficking.


In particular, the victim in this case was in a situation where it was difficult for her to receive support from her family, so when she was discharged from the facility, she was left without adequate protection neither at home nor in society. Therefore, it is necessary to take measures to ensure that foreign juveniles, such as the victim in this case, receive adequate protection by effectively enforcing relevant laws from the perspective of the principle of the best interests of the child.


In light of the above, the NHRCK concluded that the State party's treatment of foreign youth differently from Korean youth in terms of financial support, including subsistence, for living in a shelter for juvenile victims of sex trafficking constituted discrimination in violation of their right to equality.


The NHRCK therefore recommended that the respondent establish a plan to provide support to foreign juvenile victims of sex trafficking on an equal basis with domestic juveniles and reflect this in relevant guidelines.

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