Vulnerable Bodies, Vulnerable Borders: Extraterritoriality and Human Trafficking

Fitzgerald, Sharron. Vulnerable Bodies, Vulnerable Borders: Extraterritoriality and Human Trafficking. Fem Leg Stud (2012) 20:227–244

Abstract: In this article, I interrogate how the UK government constructs and manipulates the idiom of the vulnerable female, trafficked migrant. Specifically, I analyse how the government aligns aspects of its anti-trafficking plans with plans to enhance extraterritorial immigration and border control. In order to do this, I focus on the discursive strategies that revolve around the UK’s anti-trafficking initiatives. I argue that discourses of human trafficking as prostitution, modern-day slavery and organised crime do important work. Primarily, they provide the government with a moral platform from which it can develop its regulatory capacity overseas. It is not my intention to suggest that the government’s anti-trafficking plans are superficial, and that extraterritoriality is the sole driver. On the contrary, I argue that complex interrelationships exist and while the government’s interest in protecting vulnerable women from sexual exploitation may seem to be paramount, I assert that in fact it intersects with other agendas at key points. I consider how government action to protect vulnerable women in trafficking ‘source’ and ‘transit’ countries such as development aid and repatriation schemes relate to broader legal and political concerns about protecting the UK from unwanted ‘Others’.

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