Monthly Archives: July 2013

Abramo, C.W., & Madej, J. (2013): A Thing of the Present: Contemporary Challenges in Battling
Slavery and Human Trafficking. An Interview with Dr Aidan McQuade; Director of Anti-Slavery International, in: Merkourios : Utrecht Journal of International and European Law, vol. 29, iss. 77, pp. 76 – 80.

This work has been licensed by the Creative Commons Attribution License (3.0)

Full interview:

In an increasingly globalized society, many individuals travel outside of their home countries to find employment–what are the greatest challenges to ensuring that states respect the rights and particular vulnerabilities of migrant workers?How are these challenges particular to the vulnerabilities of female migrant workers?

There are a number of vulnerabilities for migrant workers. First there are limited options for safe migration and these options are even more limited for poor people from socially excluded
communities. Second many countries maintain rather xenophobic migration regimes. These
can be exploited by unscrupulous employers to exclude migrants from the basic protections of
rule of law. Third many poor countries don’t take the welfare of their migrating citizens seriously
and don’t, for example, assign labour attaches to the embassies of countries to which their citizens travel for work, to assist with standing up for their rights.

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Sex Work and Women’s Movements
Author: Svati P. Shah

CREA commissioned Svati P. Shah to write this paper as a resource for a meeting entitled ‘Ain’t I A Woman? A Global Dialogue between the Sex Workers’ Rights Movement and the Stop Violence against Women Movement’ held from 12-14 March 2009 in Bangkok, Thailand. This paper discusses key issues in the relationship between sex workers’ and women’s movements. The paper begins by describing the history of the relationship between these two movements, and takes U.S.A. and India as its examples. The paper discusses the history of women’s movements and sex workers’ movements, and where and how they intersected, or not. It goes on to discuss the contemporary context, including the status of alliances and dialogue between women’s movements and sex workers’ movements, the ways that HIV/AIDS have structured this relationship, and the question of agency. Svati P. Shah is an Assistant Professor of Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

Full article available here.

Daniela Danna, Prostitution and Public Life in Four European Capitals (2007) Rome: Carocci, available to download here.

Abstract: The book examines the most recent evolution of prostitution world in four European capital cities, following the changes in laws in the last years. In Paris in 2003 a street prohibition was introduced, against both clients and soliciting persons; in Stockholm in 1999 buyers of sexual services have been criminalized, in Amsterdam in 2000 prostitution has been configured as a trade but only to Dutch or E.U. citizens. In Madrid from 1995 to 2003 there has been a period of depenalization of organizing prostitution indoors, preceded and followed by a de facto tolerance towards the “cludes de alterne” and the other venues where prostitution takes place. All these cities have problems similar to those of Italian cities where foreign women migrating from impoverished countries have come to offer sex in the streets, with the social stigma and rejection that encountered their arrival in public spaces. Worries about the “trafficking of human beings” has also been a major component of law changes that in these countries have been proposed and approved. The research presented in the volume shows how the different policies converge towards common practices: waves of anti-foreign women repression, subsequent re-organization (in worse conditions) of street prostitution, difficulties in making contact with victims of trafficking, de facto tolerance.

Hendrik Wagenaar, Sietske Altink Helga Amesberger (2013): Final Report of the International Comparative Study of Prostitution Policy: Austria and the Netherlands, Den Haag.

Full study available here in English. 

The report is also available in Dutch here: “Complexiteit en uitdagingen van het prostitutiebeleid”

Summary only available in Dutch:
Sinds het afschaffen van het bordeelverbod in 2000 is het Nederlandse prostitutiebeleid steeds meer in het licht van controle en beheersing van sekswerkers komen te staan. Onder de noemer van de bestrijding van mensenhandel worden sekswerkers gevolgd, geregistreerd, en onbedoeld tot mobiliteit gedwongen. Het is de vraag hoe effectief dit beleid is. Op grond van ervaringen in Oostenrijk blijkt dat registratie nauwelijks een bijdrage levert aan het voorkomen van mensenhandel. Ook zijn de voorwaarden waaronder sekswerkers in Nederland en Oostenrijk werken nog weinig verbeterd. 
Dit zijn enkele conclusies uit de vandaag verschenen publicatie ‘Complexiteit en uitdagingen van het prostitutiebeleid’, de samenvatting van een internationaal vergelijkend onderzoek naar prostitutiebeleid in Nederland en Oostenrijk. Het onderzoek is uitgevoerd door de Universiteit van Leiden in samenwerking met de gemeenten Den Haag, Rotterdam en Utrecht en Platform31.

Author: Pivot Legal Society, 2006

Citation (APA):

Pivot Legal Society (2006). Beyond Decriminalization: Sex Work, Human Rights and a New Framework for Law Reform. Vancouver.

Executive Summary:

Sex workers are entitled to the same human rights standards that are afforded to other members of Canadian society. However, as a result of the current criminal laws relating to adult prostitution, sex workers are forced to live and work in conditions where they experience systemic discrimination, exploitation and violence, and where their constitutional rights are infringed. Pivot’s 004 report, Voices for Dignity: A Call to End the Harms Caused by Canada’s Sex Trade Laws, argued that sex workers’ right to expression, life, liberty, security of the person, and equality, as enshrined in
the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, are routinely violated.

Significant improvements to the working and living conditions of sex workers are not possible without the repeal of s.s 0, , (), (3) and 3 of the Criminal Code of Canada. In anticipation that Canada will one day recognize and carry out this important legislative reform, this report moves beyond the issue of criminal law reform to examine areas of law that become relevant and applicable in a decriminalized context. The analyses and findings set out in Beyond Decriminalization are intended to encourage Canadians to consider how reform of other areas of law and policy can be used to end the violence, discrimination and other human rights violations faced by sex workers.

One example of an area of legislation that will be highly relevant if sex work is decriminalized is employment and labour law. This report examines how employment and labour standards can be used to provide rights and protections for workers in the sex industry. In addition to this key topic, this report considers other relevant areas of law, including: occupational health and safety, municipal, tax, immigration, human rights, family, company, and social welfare. The findings and analyses presented are grounded in the expert opinions and experiences of sex workers from various areas of the sex industry. Through individual and group discussions with workers and business owners from escort agencies, massage parlours, sole proprietorships and at street level, this report provides a comprehensive analysis of the ways in which many areas of law can be used to improve the safety and protect the rights of sex workers.

The report presents a wide-ranging list of recommendations proposed by sex workers in the course of this research. The following selection illustrates some key aspects of sex workers’ call to action:

  • Provide sex workers with full access to the rights and protections found in the Employment Standards Act and ensure the legislation explicitly protects a sex worker’s right to maintain control over her or his contracts for the provision of sexual services. 
  • Respect the right of sex workers to unionize and provide resources and support to them throughout the process.
  • Involve sex workers in a meaningful way in municipal governance issues, such as business licensing and city zoning, in order to meet the diverse needs of sex workers from various aspects of the industry as well as the interests of communities.
  • Respect the right of sex workers to have fair and equal access to Workers’ Compensation, Employment Insurance as well as other employment benefits.
  • Enact a provision that ensures that refusal to work in the sex industry does not affect a person’s entitlements to Employment Insurance or Income Assistance.
  • Ensure the freedom of sex workers to choose from a range of business structures.
  • Ensure that income earned through sex work is subject to fair and non-discriminatory taxation and that sex workers are not retroactively taxed once their work becomes recognized as a legal activity.
  • Recognize that a parent’s involvement in sex work does not automatically create grounds for the apprehension of a child or loss of custody, and take steps to ensure that sex workers are not subject to discrimination by the Courts or government.
  • Ensure the right of sex workers to access the human rights complaint process and equal opportunities for social citizenship.
  • Ensure that migrant sex workers are afforded the rights and protections found in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

This report is the beginning of an important social dialogue about the role that the law will play in governing the sex industry in Canada. Pivot has argued that criminal law reform is the first step towards a shift from the status quo, where sex workers are subject to extreme levels of violence and social marginalization, to a society where sex workers are empowered to create safe and dignified working conditions. Criminal law reform will be most effectively carried out if all levels of government consider the findings of this research and contemplate how areas of law that fall within their jurisdiction will play a role in creating a safe and legitimate sex industry.

This report also illustrates why sex workers must be provided with a prominent role in the process of law, policy and social reform. Sex workers have a unique insight and expertise regarding their industry, the role it plays in Canadian society, and the ways in which regulatory schemes will impact their business. Above all, law and policy makers should listen to sex workers in order to understand how the laws affect them, which is a necessary step in ensuring that Canada’s laws comply with the guarantees and protections enshrined in the Charter and other human rights instruments.

Read the full report here:

Jennifer M. Chacón, “Misery and Myopia: Understanding the Failures of U.S. Efforts to Stop Human Trafficking”. Fordham Law Review, Vol. 74, p. 2977, May 2006; UC Davis Legal Studies Research Paper No. 79; UC Irvine School of Law Research Paper No. 2009-31.

Full text available

Abstract: Over five years have passed since the passage of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA), more than two years have passed since its expansion and reauthorization, and millions of dollars have been spent to achieve the Act’s stated goals of protecting trafficking victims, prosecuting traffickers and preventing human trafficking. In spite of apparent widespread political support and seemingly ample funding, the TVPA’s success has been modest. Domestically, the number of cases prosecuted have been few and the number of trafficked workers in the U.S. who have been assisted by the program has been a small proportion of the estimated number of such workers in the U.S.

In order to understand why the TVPA has fallen short of its goals, the Act must be analyzed in the context of its legal antecedents: the labor, immigration and sex trafficking laws that existed prior to the TVPA and that form the bulk of the Act’s substantive provisions. This article demonstrates that long before the TVPA was enacted, legal and policy decisions were made in each of these three areas that continue to exacerbate the domestic manifestations of problem of human trafficking and the related exploitation of undocumented migrant workers.

Unfortunately, Congress did not systematically revisit these laws when passing the TVPA. In fact, the TVPA incorporates many provisions of these laws with only minor changes, and fails to address many of the perverse structural incentives that the laws create. Border interdiction strategies, restrictive and punitive immigration policies and insufficient labor protection for migrants interact in ways that leave exploited workers in the United States at the mercy of traffickers and abusive employers, notwithstanding the TVPA.

Furthermore, the narrow understanding of trafficking that dominates domestic TVPA enforcement efforts has created an over-emphasis on anti-prostitution efforts to the exclusion of broader issues of worker exploitation, and has also resulted in racially biased understanding and enforcement of anti-trafficking laws within the United States. Unfortunately, some of the worst impulses of U.S. anti-trafficking strategies have also been incorporated into the U.S. government’s international anti-trafficking strategies. In short, as currently enforced, the TVPA exacerbates many of the negative effects of pre-existing laws, even as it alleviates some of the political pressure to address human exploitation.

Author: Zawadi Nyong’o. Interviews conducted by: Eva Ayiera, Christine Butegwa, Kavinya Makau and Zawadi Nyong’o. Edited by: Christine Butegwa and Solome Nakaweesi-Kimbugwe. A Publication by Akina Mama wa Afrika (AMwA) (February 2010)

When I dare to be powerfulPreface (Excerpt)

This publication breaks the silence regarding women’s sexuality. Governments, women’s rights activists and other social movements, often fail to understand the connection between sex work, forced early marriage, land rights, poverty, education, property and inheritance rights. We need to understand the politics behind sexuality, sexual rights and sex work because the liberation of all women, the equitable distribution of power and resources, and the ability to control our own bodies are indeed critical to our feminist agenda. This breakthrough work is in line with AMwA’s core mandates of creating space for African Women to SPEAK FOR THEMSELVES. It allows sex workers to speak for themselves; claim their spaces and share their stories. “When I Dare to Be Powerful” redefines African sex workers; giving the power back to them and their struggles.

Introduction (Excerpt)

“When I Dare to Be Powerful” presents the multiple dimensions of women’s lives. Women who happen to have worked or still work in the sex industry. Women in their complexity, full of personality, experiences, dashed dreams and high hopes. Mothers, sisters, lovers, wives, women with vulnerabilities and women with strength. The book presents the interwoven tapestry of narratives that tell merely a thread of women’s life stories, rejecting the “single story”, telling neither the negative stereotype, nor the politically correct narratives, reinforcing and debunking myths.

Full report available here.

Ronald Weitzer, “Popular Claims vs. Evidence-Based Conclusions in Human Trafficking”: talk given at Queens University Belfast School of Law, 11th April 2013, as part of the one-day conference New Frontiers of the Dark Figure: Measuring Hidden Crimes. Audio available at YouTube. Transcribed by us and posted here with the kind permission of QUB School of Law.

(Note: As the commentary during the Q&A session was sometimes difficult to understand, there are a few gaps in the transcript. Please leave a comment below or use the contact form if you can help fill any of them in.)

Chair: Ron Weitzer is Professor of Sociology at George Washington University in Washington DC. He is a well-known writer and academic dealing with various issues. Those pertaining to our discussions today are a number of articles that he’s written examining the American campaign against trafficking beginning in the early 1990s, and so has been at it for some time, and the institutionalisation of official state discourse, policy-making and enforcement practices with regards to trafficking. He’s currently co-editing a special issue on human trafficking for the annals of the American Academy of Social and Political Science, and so I would invite Ron to the dais to give us a talk on “Popular Claims vs Evidence-Based Conclusions in Human Trafficking”. Cheers.

Ron Weitzer: Thank you very much, and thank you to the organisers for sponsoring this very unique panel. Let’s see, OK. You mentioned earlier that there is some controversy regarding trafficking in general, and sex trafficking, and I think I’ll try to explain why that is today, as well as suggest some alternatives to what I consider to be the dominant discourse and policy regarding human trafficking in general and sex trafficking in particular. Most of what I’m talking about today is sex trafficking but some of it does apply to human trafficking more generally, other types of trafficking, into other labour arenas, and most of what I say is focused on the US but I think a lot can also apply to other countries and internationally as well. And I want to give some history and background to this problem and issue, it did arise in the late 1990s in the US as an issue – frequent media reporting, the proliferation of anti-trafficking groups around the country and throughout the world, an increasing amount of state and international funding and enforcement efforts, and quite a lot of money is being spent in dealing with the problem.

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