Helping victims of sex trafficking in South Africa (Natasha Tames, 3L)

Natasha Tames, 3L student - 08 October 2013

Gerald L. Gall Global Community Service Grant 2013

By Natasha Tames (3L)

Words cannot begin to describe the positively exceptional summer I had in South Africa. I was an intern with the legal task team at a small grassroots non-governmental organization helping women who were victims of sex trafficking in Cape Town. The organization assists women who have been trafficked into prostitution to leave sex work and it also seeks to change South African federal laws on prostitution. The organization believes that partially decriminalizing prostitution will reduce the demand for prostitution and thereby decrease sex trafficking in South Africa. I chose to intern there because I am fascinated by international law and human rights law, I wanted to learn more about sex trafficking and transnational criminal law, I hoped to learn more about the processes surrounding law reform, and because I wanted to have a meaningful volunteer experience abroad.

My role was to support the legal task team by researching various topics. I researched the various ways in which other states legislate upon prostitution, the advantages and disadvantages of the partial decriminalization model, the current state of the law in South Africa, and exit strategies for prostituted/trafficked women. I compiled a list of how other African states in particular have criminalized prostitution and I investigated South Africa's obligations under international treaty law (such as under the Palermo Protocol). I also had an opportunity to assist with the development of a community outreach program for high school students in Khayelitsha, one of South Africa's largest informal settlements, to teach the students about the links between sex trafficking and prostitution. Ultimately, my research will be used to assist the legal task team in drafting model legislation that will be presented to the South African Parliament during the South African Law Review's consultation process later on this year.

Without a doubt, I would certainly recommend that other law students pursue any legal opportunities abroad. My internship was an excellent chance for me to hone my legal research skills, learn more about the law in other jurisdictions, gain advocacy experience, travel, and most importantly, to use the skills I have been learning in law school in a fulfilling and meaningful way. My internship experience was highly rewarding since I gained international experience, helped an interesting cause, learned much about South African law, and had the opportunity to interact with various members of the community. I would be hard-pressed to imagine a better way of spending my summer.

I am incredibly thankful for the Gerald Gall Community Service Grant; without it, I would certainly not have been able to afford the flight and living expenses as an unpaid intern in Cape Town. This grant was instrumental in allowing me to have this international opportunity that I could not have otherwise hoped to have. I am truly and sincerely thankful to be a recipient of the Gerald Gall Community Service Grant. I hope that my work in Cape Town would have been exactly the type of work of which the late Professor Gall, a notable humanitarian, would approve.

Gerald L. Gall Global Community Service Grant: The Faculty of Law Global Community Service grant was renamed the Gerald L. Gall Global Community Service grant in memory of Professor Gall. The purpose of these awards is to provide financial assistance to students who wish to become involved in projects and activities that serve the larger community, either in Canada or abroad. First year and upper year students are eligible for these awards. The award is designed to permit students to pursue these activities during the summer months between their law studies at the Faculty of Law.