This module is a resource for lecturers   




This section contains suggestions for in-class and pre-class educational exercises, while a post-class assignment for assessing student understanding of the Module is suggested in a separate section. Below are nine proposed exercises. It is suggested to divide the class into different sub-groups and assign each group one of the exercises. Depending on the size of the class, and the chosen approach of the lecturer, one or more than one exercise can be chosen and assigned to separate groups.


Exercise 1: Gender stereotypes in the media

Based on a quick Internet search, select a media article that addresses a case of TIP and one case of SOM in your country or in a country of your choice. Examples might include TIP for different forms of trafficking (e.g. forced labour, sexual exploitation) and/or diverse types of SOM.

Discuss the following questions:

  • How is the TIP victim presented? How are the smuggled migrants presented? How is the perpetrator presented?
  • How are men or women, boys or girls, represented?
  • What are the gender representations? Bias or stereotypes?
  • Bringing together these elements, try summarizing how gendered the representation of the victim and perpetrators of TIP and/or smuggled migrants/smugglers is.

Exercise 2: Awareness-raising campaigns

Find an anti-trafficking campaign or awareness-raising activity (a talk, a conference, a poster, a prevention activity in schools or among migrants, etc.) that is being carried out in your country or region.

Discuss the following questions:

  • What is the key message? Who is the intended audience?
  • How is trafficking portrayed? (List the key characteristics)
  • How are victims represented? How is the perpetrator presented?
  • What are the gender representations?

Exercise 3: Root causes of TIP and gender inequality

Box 24

Root causes and risk factors: why trafficking disproportionately affects women and girls?

Gender inequality: Gendered poverty, lack of viable employment opportunities, lack of control over financial resources and limited access to education are all factors that can exacerbate the vulnerability of women and girls to trafficking.

Gender-based violence: Gender-based violence and cultural norms that normalize such violence contribute to the cycle of violence against women and make them more vulnerable to trafficking.

Discriminatory labour or migration laws and gender blind policies: Labour and migration laws that lack a human rights and gender-sensitive approach may restrict women's ability to move freely and change employment, which increases the likelihood that women will seek employment in unregulated and informal sectors. This subsequently increases women's vulnerability to trafficking and exploitation.

Conflict, post-conflict settings and humanitarian crises: In the absence of the rule of law during crises, women and girls can become highly vulnerable to different forms of exploitation. This is due, for example, to the fact that women and girls can be targeted by armed groups for sexual slavery, domestic servitude and forced and child marriages.

Source: ICAT (2017) The gender dimensions of human trafficking. Brief Issue no. 4, The Inter-Agency Coordination Group (ICAT)

Based on the reading of the factors that increase the risk of trafficking for women, as presented in Box 11, complement the list by including a gender approach, i.e. by including men, age-sensitive approaches and persons who identify as LGBTI.

To do so, choose a specific region (it can be your own country) and discuss what are the key gender aspects to be considered when trying to understand the root causes of trafficking.

Questions for the discussions

  • In your country or region, what are the key factors that increase the risks or foster vulnerabilities to exploitation and trafficking?
  • What are the key sources of discrimination?

Exercise 4: Gender-sensitive approach to TIP

Read the two following excerpts from different sources which both raise issues regarding what is or what should be a gender-sensitive approach to trafficking.

Box 25

A gender-sensitive approach considers the different impacts of policies and programmes on men and women and empowers potential and actual victims to access information and remedies, and to claim their human rights in a gender specific manner. Despite growing awareness of the need to empower women through measures to achieve social, economic and political equity, much more remains to be done to increase women's economic and political participation, their educational attainment, and their health and well-being. A gender-sensitive approach therefore also ensures that anti-trafficking strategies address gender-based discrimination and violence, promote gender equality and the realization of human rights […]

Source: Amandine Scherrer and Helmut Werner (2016). Trafficking in Human Beings from a Gender Perspective Directive 2011/36/EU. European Implementation Assessment. EPRS | European Parliamentary Research Service. April 2016.
Box 26

What constitutes a gender-sensitive perspective on human trafficking? Does it mean an approach that distinguishes between women and men because their experiences of exploitation are intrinsically different? Or is a gender-sensitive approach one that perceives all trafficked persons as individuals whose rights have been abused because of their - individual or collective - vulnerabilities, understanding that gender may have been one of the reasons why an individual or a group has been exploited?

Source: ITUC/Anti-Slavery/CCME (2011). Trafficking for labour exploitation - gender. International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), Anti-slavery, Churches' commission for migrants in Europe (CCME), p. 6.

Based on the different elements raised in these two excerpts, students may discuss the following questions:

  • What do you think should be the core component of a gender-sensitive approach to trafficking?
  • What policies and measures should be adopted to achieve such an approach?
  • As part of your reflection, try to answer the questions raised in the second excerpt.

Next, try to reflect on your country's anti-trafficking policy or law (if your country does not have any legislation criminalizing TIP, you may select another country in your region):

  • Has your country signed and ratified the United Nations Convention against Organized Crime and the Protocol against Trafficking? If so, when?
  • Is there legislation criminalizing trafficking in persons in your country?
  • If yes, is there a focus on women and children? On sexual exploitation? Were there recent changes (over the last 5-10 years) in that regard?
  • Is gender included in the laws, policies or action plans to counter trafficking in your country? If so, how? What type of measures are foreseen and/or implemented?

Exercise 5: Sham marriage and SOM

Look up and read Case GBRx015 on the SHERLOC SOM Case Law Database. This case involves a 22-year old Latvian woman in the United Kingdom who was convicted for her participation in a marriage scam involving an Indian man. She was promised financial compensation for her involvement in the case. She was arrested before she was able to be compensated in full.

  • What was the specific offence she was charged with and why?
  • Were there any aspects in her socio-economic background that influenced her decision to participate in the offence? What were the reasons she cited to become involved in the case?
  • Cite the evidence concerning the role of organized crime in the offence.
  • What was her sentence, and what set the grounds for the appeal that is cited in the case law? 

Exercise 6: Indigenous people and SOM

In the SHERLOC SOM Case Law Database, look up USAx039 (United States v. Ortega). This case is a federal appeal to a case that took place in the United States, involving an indigenous woman who had a prior history of smuggling.

  • What was the original charge? What was the woman charged with and why?
  • This case is unique in the sense that it involved someone who lives in a reservation. Carry out an online search for sources and discuss: What are the daily challenges that indigenous or native people face in the United States? What are the intersectional challenges indigenous women encounter in their experiences with the criminal justice system? Use this information to support or reject the points raised by the defence in court concerning the conditions faced by the defendant.
  • Look up the location where the case took place and find information on its income, employment and literacy levels. Keeping those factors in mind, what may influence the participation of people from this part of the world in smuggling?

Exercise 7: Women and SOM

"Frozen River" (USA 2008) is a movie directed by Courtney Hunt that tells a fictional story about two women who become involved in migrant smuggling on the United States-Canada border. Watch the film and discuss the following questions as a group:

  • Drawing from the movie, what are the socio-economic challenges people face in border communities where smuggling may be present? Do these challenges impact women differently and why? Provide specific examples. 
  • Using a gender lens, how are women impacted by the criminalization of smuggling? In other words, what is specific to the experiences of women when it comes to them facing smuggling charges?
  • How were smuggling activities organized and why? Did the women perform specific tasks? Who were other players and what roles did they play? What level of organization (network/independent operator/non-hierarchical/combination thereof) do you see? What evidence would you cite to back up your assessment?

Exercise 8: SOM and organized crime, the role of women

In the SHERLOC SOM Case Law Database, look up case DOM008 (Resolición n. 4445 of Corte de Apelaciones de Iquique). This is a case involving a smuggling ring based in the Dominican Republic that smuggled Dominican and Colombian migrants into Chile via Bolivia.

  • How was the group organized? How would you characterize its structure? In other words: would you characterize it as a network/independent operator/non-hierarchical/combination thereof operation?
  • What kind of communication patterns existed among the partners? Did they use specific forms of technologies to operate?
  • What were the risks faced by the migrants in this case?
  • This case is unique in terms of its size and regional scope, and given the fact that it appears to have been coordinated by a woman. Are there any gender-specific dimensions in this case that are noted in the case law? 

Exercise 9: A woman's leading role in SOM

Sister Ping was perhaps the most notorious smuggling operator in United States contemporary history, allegedly smuggling thousands of Chinese migrants during the years she was active. Read here the press release concerning her sentencing and answer the following questions.

  • What was her life trajectory from a migrant to a smuggling operator?
  • How was her business organized?
  • She was seen by United States authorities as a dangerous criminal who put the lives of thousands of migrants at risks and whose activities lead to the deaths of many innocent people. Look up articles concerning her life, like this piece in the Foreign Affairs Magazine. How did people in China feel about the work she provided?

Exercise 10: Role play - the power walk

To further help students understand the idea of privilege, and make them aware of their own privilege, while understanding some of the conditions that make people vulnerable trafficking in persons  and smuggling of migrants, lecturers can ask the students to do the "privilege walk" shown in this short 4-minute video clip. To avoid causing discomfort and embarrassment to the students, it is recommended to use the role-play method and assign fake identities to the students (e.g. male lawyer, woman police officer). Sample statements for the exercise are widely available on the Internet (see, e.g., here or here).

The UN Women Training Centre, in its Compendium of Good Practices in Training for Gender Equality (at p. 64), calls this exercise the "Patriarchy and the Power Walk", and provides the following guidance:

  • Each trainee "steps into the shoes" of another person, e.g. a single mother, a blind man, etc.
  • Statements are read aloud. If these apply to them, they step forward. If not, they do not move.
  • In the end, participants visually see how much power, access to resources, and opportunities some individuals in society have compared to others.
  • Based on this, they discuss how power and privilege is relative to a person's gender, socio-economic position, ethnicity, and other cross-cutting issues. This is followed by a discussion of the "Patriarchal Paradox", i.e. how men are also disadvantaged by the system of patriarchy.

Statements suggested by UN Women for this exercise

  • I have access to and can read newspapers regularly
  • I eat at least two nutritious meals a day
  • I would get legal representation if I am arrested
  • I would be confident if I had to speak directly to a magistrate
  • I am not in danger of being sexually harassed or abused
  • I have a regular income or means of supporting myself
  • I can speak in meetings of my extended family
  • I would not be treated violently or roughly if I am arrested
  • I can afford and access appropriate healthcare
  • I can question spending of community funds
  • I can name some of the laws in the country
  • Someone would immediately be told if I was arrested
  • I have left over money at the end of the week that I can spend on myself
  • I can travel anywhere I like without assistance or permission
  • I do not feel threatened in the workplace by any issues of my identity
  • I do not feel socially uncomfortable in most situations to voice my opinions
  • I can do what I like in my home without fear

Identities suggested by UN Women include: male lawyer with private firm, 10-year-old street boy, grandmother taking care of orphans, unemployed single mother, male storekeeper, woman police officer, blind elderly man, male school teacher, female member of parliament, migrant ethnic minority, male literate factory worker, returned trafficked girl, female sex worker, undocumented migrant woman, etc. These suggested identities and statements were used by UN Women in its Gender Mainstreaming Course, Bangkok, October 2017.

Lecturer guidelines

If it is difficult to conduct this activity due to time and space limitations, lecturers can show the students the clip. The Singapore version of the clip is available here. Note that this exercise will lead to a discussion that goes beyond gender.

Next: Possible class structure
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