This legal note outlines the international law protections for refugee women in relation to trafficking. International law prohibits the trafficking of persons and provides special protection to refugees, whilst recognising the unique experience of women. Despite international law protections, women are at higher risk of becoming victims of trafficking and sexual exploitation. There are three key issues that need to be addressed: (1) attempts by States to adopt restrictive interpretations of the definitions of ‘refugee’ and ‘trafficking’ which loosen legal protections and are contrary to established legal principles; (2) non-comprehensive ratification of key legal instruments by States; and (3) and ineffective mechanisms at the international level for monitoring and enforcing implementation.
Key words: women's rights, trafficking, refugee, protection, impunity, legislation, human rights, CEDAW, Palermo Protocol