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The Mongolian Gender Equality Center (MGEC) is a non-governmental organization based in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. It was established in 2002 with the aim of defending human rights and promoting gender equality. Its main focus has been on the issue of human trafficking, which it tackles through prevention programmes, legal advocacy and lobbying, and shelter and counseling services for victims (VOTs). Between 2007 and December 2009 the center provided support and assistance to over 280 Mongolian VOTs, of which 143 were successfully repatriated to Mongolia from 8 different countries.[1]

MGEC also works to secure equal rights for men and women in Mongolian society, arguing that discrimination against women lies at the root of gender-based crimes against them. It has developed a range of educational materials and publications to promote the ideal of gender equality.

Human trafficking in Mongolia

Human trafficking - the recruitment of individuals by deception or force for the purpose of exploitation - is a relatively recent phenomenon in Mongolia. Since 1990 the country’s transition from Socialism to democracy has seen increasing privatization of state-owned enterprises. As a result many Mongolians, especially the young, have faced difficulties in finding employment, making them vulnerable to traffickers offering attractive opportunities to work or study abroad.[ii] The majority of Mongolians are trafficked to nearby countries including The People's Republic of China, Macau, Malaysia, Kazakhstan and The Republic of Korea. However in recent years Mongolian trafficking victims have been found in a greater number of destinations, including Germany and Switzerland. Mongolians have been trafficked for a variety of purposes, including sexual exploitation, forced labour, and false marriage. Although the Mongolian government is beginning to take steps to tackle the problem, the majority of anti-trafficking work is undertaken by NGOs and civil society organizations.[2]

Aims

The aims of the MGEC are:

  • To lobby for improvements in the legal environment for victims of trafficking, gender-based violence and rape;
  • To lobby for improvements in the provision of social services to victims of trafficking, gender-based violence and rape;
  • To promote gender equality throughout all levels of society.[3]

Areas of work

Victim protection

In 2007 MGEC initiated the “Direct Assistance to Victims of Human Trafficking Program” with assistance from the International Organization for Migration. Since then the program has provided 272 VOTs with assistance from the MGEC including repatriation, rehabilitation and reintegration into the Mongolian community.[4]

The program has assisted victims in the following ways:[5]

  • Initial repatriation of VOTs from abroad, co-operating with NGOs, government police departments, and international organizations. Between 2007 and March 2010, 155 Mongolian trafficked nationals aged between 8 to 49 were successfully repatriated with the help of various government bodies.
  • Since September MGEC has provided a safe temporary shelter for VOTs in Ulaanbaatar, with assistance from the Swiss Agency for Development and cooperation (SDC). The shelter supplies food, clothing and health checks, and training in various practical skills. Since opening, the shelter, which is funded by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, has provided accommodation for over 90 VOTs, each staying between 1 and 6 months.
  • In February 2009 a Drop-in Center for VOTs in Zamiin-Uud in the south of the Dornogobi Province was established with assistance from the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and has provided assistance to 25 VOTs residing for up to one month.
  • Legal assistance and advice. VOTs are provided with free legal aid during prosecution of their case at related law enforcements. MGEC settled 7 cases involving 46 trafficked persons.
  • Vocational training, including an educational stipend during the training and for the month following. Since 2008 MGEC has implemented a “Household Sustainable Income Activity” program, funded by the SDC to provide VOTs with the necessary training to facilitate their reintegration, and ensure they are financially independent to prevent recurrence of trafficking. Advice on job seeking and starting a small business is also provided.
  • Provision of a fully furnished ger (Mongolian traditional housing).[6]

Trafficking prevention

MGEC’s trafficking prevention program aims to develop public understanding through training, research and the distribution of educational materials:

  • Research: MGEC has conducted several pieces of research on a national level concerning public opinion on the cause, risk, and harmful effects of trafficking, and research into victim’s experiences and the identification of trafficking networks.
  • Training: Over the past 6 years, MGEC has provided over 250 sector specific training sessions to lawyers, police, and government departments on current issues surrounding human trafficking and the legal status of VOTs. For example, in 2007, with assistance from UNICEF, the MGEC implemented a pilot training program on Human Trafficking at the Police Academy and Border Troops Institute (BTI). In 2009 the course was implemented in full at both institutes.
  • Materials: The organization produces and distributes a number of handbooks and educational materials. These are supplied to the general public, within NGOs and in University libraries. MGEC Rail Campaign sought to target those being trafficked by rail by distributing leaflets detailing the hotline number with passenger rail tickets. As a result a number of VOTs were successfully repatriated.
  • Advertisement/ Promotion: the organization has produced a documentary film based on victim testimonies for the purposes of instruction and training. Public awareness is further raised through newspaper articles and TV programs.
  • Hotline – +976 1903: Since November 2007 MGEC has provided a 24 hour trafficking hotline, funded by the Asia Foundation, which provides for the cost of a landline call, information and assistance as well as the contact details of international charities providing support to VOTS. The hotline provides direct information and counseling, receives information from third parties identifying potential trafficked persons, and provides advice for those who are going abroad for work and study. Since it began, the hotline has received 1,600 calls, of which 89 VOTs were successfully repatriated.
  • Hotline – +976 11 70111112: The organization also provides a hotline dedicated to Mongolians marrying or currently married to a Korean citizen. The hotline provides advice and information on marriage laws, regulations and potential risks.
  • Campaigns: MGEC organizes general public awareness campaigns, and campaigns targeting at-risk groups based on the findings from MGEC surveys.[7]

Foreign marriage

Between 2000 and 2008 the number of marriages of Mongolian women to foreign nationals increased from 79 to 3,485, and 67.8% of these were to Korean nationals. In July 2008, MGEC, together with the Government of the Republic of Korea and the Mongolian Ministry of Social Welfare & Labour, provided a one day training program for Mongolian brides. The program focused on Korean culture, language and society, the legal regulations regarding marriage and divorce in Korea, and gave extensive advice on trafficking, domestic violence and abuse.[8]

Gender Equality

MGEC has developed and published a “Gender Equality as a Basis of State Development” handbook jointly with the National Pedagogical University and the Science and Technology university of Mongolia. In addition the organization runs a number of educational programs from primary school to University level, and is also currently a member of a lobby group which is in the process of drafting a new gender equality law.

Trafficking under Mongolian law

In 1996, amendments to the previous Criminal Code (1986) introduced the first provisions addressing trafficking-related offences in Mongolia. As a result, one case of trafficking was successfully prosecuted, involving a Russian national who offered lucrative foreign employment to two Mongolian girls, one a minor aged 18, and another aged 19.

The revised Criminal Code came into effect in September 2002 however the articles regarding trafficking remain vague and ill-defined. Currently, under Article 113 (Sale and Purchase of Humans), the sale or purchase of human beings is punishable by a fine (51 to 250 times the minimum wage), obligatory labour for 300 to 500 hours, or by a prison sentence of up to 3 years.

If the sale and purchase of humans is committed for the purpose of taking blood, tissue or organs, prostitution, involves two or more persons or minors or is committed repeatedly or by a group of persons with prior intent, then it is punishable by a prison sentence from five to ten years. If committed on a permanent basis or by an organized group or criminal organization, the sentence is extended to ten to fifteen years.[9]

Other problems such as the protection of victims and witnesses have prevented trials continuing as the victims have been unable attend the hearing or witnesses have been reluctant to testify. A draft amendment of Article 113 was recently produced by a coalition of government, NGO and legal scholars.

A number of improvements have since been made to Mongolian law concerning the status of VOTs.

  1. Mongolia signed the Palermo Protocol in May 2008;[10]
  2. In February 2008, Article 113 (Sale and Purchase of Humans) was revised;[11]
  3. In March 2008, the official Legal Interpretation of Article 113 (Sale and Purchase of Humans) of the Criminal Code of Mongolia was developed from the Supreme Court of Mongolia. This led to a significant improvement in the number of cases that resulted in prosecution.

The amendment to Criminal Code of Mongolia, and signing of the Palermo Protocol was a result of many years of efforts and works of NGOs and some Governmental organizations.

Legal aid

Between 2007 and 2009 MGEC provided legal assistance to more than 160 clients, which included VOTs and those entered into unlawful marriages with Korean nationals.[12] In April 2009 two VOTs were repatriated from the Republic of China, and provided with legal and psychological counseling, and an advocacy service free of charge. In August 2009 the trafficker was sentenced to 12 years imprisonment. In February 2008 MGEC repatriated 5 VOTs from Malaysia and Macau with assistance from various Thai and Mongolian government bodies, and after providing legal support to the VOTs, the traffickers were sentenced to an average of 9 years imprisonment.[13]

Publications

Partner organizations

Domestic Organizations

  • Ministry of Social Welfare and Labour
  • Ministry of Justice and Home Affairs
  • Ministry of Foreign Affairs
  • State Centre of Civil Registration and Information
  • General Police Department
  • Border Protection General Board
  • Human Security Policy Studies Centre
  • National Centre for Children
  • Metropolitan Youth Agency
  • Centre of Population Study and Research at the National University of Mongolia
  • Centre for Human Rights and Development
  • Mongolian Women’s Fund
  • National Centre Against Violence
  • Dulguun Fund
  • Ger Initiative
  • Nisora Fund
  • Dureen Sanaa Foundation, etc.

International Organizations

MGEC is a member of the following organizations:

References

  1. Direct Assistance to Victims of Human trafficking Program Final Report. (2009). Victim Protection Programme, MGEC NGO. pp 1 - 11
  2. http://www.state.gov/g/tip/rls/tiprpt/2009/
  3. http://stoptrafficking.mn/eng/
  4. http://stoptrafficking.mn/eng/images/last/Issue.pdf
  5. Mongolian Gender Equality Centre NGO General Information Publication. (2010)
  6. http://stoptrafficking.mn/eng/index.php?option=com_content&view=section&layout=blog&id=12&Itemid=102
  7. Mongolian Gender Equality Centre NGO General Information Publication. (2010)
  8. Pre-Departure Orientation Programme Report. E. Khishigbayar, MGEC Human Trafficking Project Coordinator.(2008)
  9. http://stoptrafficking.mn/eng/
  10. http://stoptrafficking.mn/eng/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=101:palermo-convention&catid=94:palermo-convention&Itemid=122
  11. http://stoptrafficking.mn/eng/index.php?option=com_content&view=section&layout=blog&id=15&Itemid=121
  12. Direct Assistance to Victims of Human trafficking Program Final Report. (2009). Victim Protection Programme, MGEC NGO. pp 1 - 11
  13. Mongolian Gender Equality Centre NGO General Information Publication. (2010)

Further reading

External links

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