Nearly 20 years ago, in its Action Plan to Combat Trafficking, Organisation for Security and Co- operation in Europe (OSCE) concluded that the ‘root causes of trafficking in human beings, occurring both in countries of origin and destination, remain insufficiently tackled’. Demand for sexual exploitation was identified as one of such root causes, along with the widespread sex discrimination, violence against women, racial and economic inequalities, conflicts and wars, among others. (OSCE, PC.DEC/557).
In the European Union, since 2009, both human trafficking and sexual exploitation of women and children are explicitly considered in the Lisbon Treaty extending the Union’s competence for the harmonisation of criminal law. On this basis, in 2011, European Union adopted a directive on preventing and combatting trafficking which clearly recognised trafficking in women for the purpose of exploitation in prostitution as a gendered crime – qualitatively different from other forms of trafficking in its root causes and its impact on victims – that required solutions grounded in a comprehensive understanding of this crime as a form of violence against women. The directive also recognised that addressing the demand was a measure that states must be encouraged to take for the effective eradication of trafficking in human beings.