Monthly Archives: February 2014

selling people” by Sutapa Basu, Anne T. Gallagher, Denise Brennan, Elena Shih, Kari Lerum and Ronald Weitzer. 

As of today, the pieces are freely accessible. This may not be the case in the future.

Jayashri Srikantiah, “Perfect Victims and Real Survivors: The Iconic Victim in Domestic Human Trafficking Law”, 87 Boston University Law Review 157 (February 2007).


Recent groundbreaking legislation created new immigration relief for victims of human trafficking, who would otherwise be subject to deportation after escape from exploitation. However, few trafficking victims have successfully obtained relief under its provisions. Existing critique has focused on international and domestic definitions of human trafficking and appraisal of the statutory language. This Article explores the problem through a new analytical lens. I suggest that federal agencies implementing the statute have restricted relief based on a flawed understanding of victim volition, under which victims who appear to be under the total control of a trafficker are viewed as worthy of relief, and other victims are rejected as undeserving. Drawing on criminal and domestic violence law as well as immigration legal history, the Article examines the forces animating the regulatory conception of deserving victims as “iconic victims” who are understood to be under a trafficker’s total control, both as to their entry into the United States and as to their subsequent exploitation for forced labor or sex. I posit that the current federal agency approach stems from concerns about differentiating victims from other undocumented migrants and mandating victim participation in the prosecution of traffickers. The Article concludes by suggesting an alternative approach that better engages in the complex factual task of identifying victims.

Full text available here.


Recent articles have raised important questions about the validity of prevalence data on human trafficking, exposing flawed methodologies behind frequently cited statistics. While considerable evidence points to the fact that human trafficking does exist in the United States and abroad, many sources of literature continue to cite flawed data and some misuse research in ways that seemingly inflate the problem, which can have serious implications for anti-trafficking efforts, including victim services and anti-trafficking legislation and policy. This systematic review reports on the prevalence data used in 42 recently published books on sex trafficking to determine the extent to which published books rely on data estimates and just how they use or misuse existing data. The findings from this review reveal that the vast majority of published books do rely on existing data that were not rigorously produced and therefore may be misleading or at minimum, inaccurate. Implications for practice, research, and policy are discussed, as well as recommendations for future prevalence studies on human trafficking.

Critical Findings

Read More



Extensive research documents that female sex workers (FSWs) in Russia are very vulnerable to abuses from police, including police sexual coercion. However, despite qualitative data suggesting abusive policing practices are more likely for FSWs contending with substance abuse issues and risky sex work contexts, there is a paucity of quantitative study evaluating these associations specifically in terms of police sexual coercion. Such research is needed to guide structural interventions to improve health and safety for FSWs in Russia and globally.


The purpose of this study is to assess the prevalence of police sexual coercion among FSWs from two Russian cities, St. Petersburg and Orenburg, and to determine whether riskier sex work behaviors and contexts and substance use behaviors, including both IDU and risky alcohol use, are associated with increased risk for sexual coercion from police.


FSWs in St. Petersburg and Orenburg were recruited via time-location and convenience sampling and completed structured surveys on demographics (age, education), sex work risks (e.g., violence during sex work) and substance use. Logistic regression analyses assessed associations of substance use and risky sex work with police sexual coercion, adjusting for demographics.


Participants (N=896) were aged 15 and older (94% were 20+ years). Most (69%) reported past year binge alcohol use, and 48% reported IDU the day before. Half (56%) reported 4+ clients per day. Rape during sex work ever was reported by 64%. Police sexual coercion in the past 12 months was reported by 38%. In the multivariate model, both current IDU (AOR=2.09, CI=1.45-3.02) and past year binge alcohol use (AOR=1.46, CI=1.03-2.07) were associated with police sexual coercion, as was selling sex on the street (not in venues) (AOR=7.81, CI=4.53-13.48) and rape during sex work (AOR=2.04, CI=1.43-2.92).


Current findings document the substantial role police sexual violence plays in the lives of FSWs in Russia. These findings also highlight heightened vulnerability to such violence among self-managed and substance abusing FSWs in this context. Structural interventions addressing police violence against FSWs may be useful to improve the health and safety of this population.


New Zealand was the first country to decriminalize sex work. This article provides a reflective commentary on decriminalization, its implementation and its impacts in New Zealand. New Zealand Prostitutes’ Collective (NZPC) was the key player in getting decriminalization on the policy agenda and their effective networking played an essential role to the successful campaign for legislative change. There were contentious clauses within the Prostitution Reform Act (PRA) which were of concern to NZPC and others. However, the research which informed the review of the Act has shown that decriminalization has been successful in making the industry safer and improving the human rights of sex workers within all sectors of the industry. The PRA provides several protections for sex workers, which means that their human rights and citizenship can be safeguarded. Yet there has been little movement towards decriminalization in other countries and reluctance by some to draw on New Zealand’s experience. Indeed, it cannot be claimed that decriminalization will be experienced in the same way in other countries. New Zealand is a small island with a population of just over four million and movement across its borders is more restricted than countries that are part of the European Union. Nevertheless, other countries may find the arguments used to get legislative change in New Zealand useful within their own context.

Eilis Ward, “Prostitution and the Irish State: From Prohibitionism to a Globalised Sex Trade” (February 2010) Irish Political Studies Vol. 25, No. 1, 47–65.


This article argues that while the prostitution policies of the Irish state have changed over a long time from an unambiguous prohibitionism towards a partial abolitionism, overall policy is characterised by inconsistency and contradictions and legal changes have occurred outside of a comprehensive policy review. As Ireland is integrated into a globalised sex industry, with a consequent restructuring of the vice trade, prostitution itself may remain largely beyond the reach of the state, or, policy resistant.

Full text available here.

Author: Daniela Danna, Researcher in sociology at the Università degli Studi di Milano, Dipartimento di scienze sociali e politiche, Report on prostitution laws in the European Union, Autumn 2013 – revised 5th February 2014

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International
Creative Commons License

Click here to read the full report on this blog.

Read More

Ana Paula da SilvaI; Thaddeus Gregory BlanchetteII; Andressa Raylane BentoIII  (2013): Cinderella deceived. Analyzing a Brazilian myth regarding trafficking in persons, Vibrant, Virtual Braz. Anthr. vol.10 no.2 Brasília July/Dec. 2013 


This article provides an overview of how trafficking in persons has come to be imagined in Brazil. We stipulate that a mythical narrative has become central to discourses about trafficking used to guide policy-makers and educate civil society. We perform a structural analysis of this myth arguing that its acceptance, combined with the persistence of laws that define trafficking solely as the migration of prostitutes, has shifted public discussion towards a paradigm of passivity and law enforcement where members of certain social categories must be “educated to understand that they are victims” and their movements must be curtailed.

Keywords: Trafficking in persons, prostitution, Brazil, myths



O presente artigo fornece uma visão geral de como o tráfico de pessoas tem sido imaginado no Brasil. Afirmamos que uma narrativa mítica tornou-se central para os discursos sobre o tráfico utilizados para orientar os agentes políticos e educar a sociedade civil. Realizamos uma análise estrutural desse mito, argumentando que a sua aceitação, combinada com a persistência de leis que definem o tráfico apenas como a migração de prostitutas, tem criado, na discussão pública, uma paradigma de passividade e de estrito legalismo, onde os membros de certas categorias sociais devem ser “educados para entenderem que são vítimas ” e seus movimentos devem ser reprimidos.

Palavras-chave: tráfico de pessoas, prostituição, Brasil, mitos

May-Len Skilbrei and Marianne Tveit (Fafo Institute for Applied International Studies), “Defining Trafficking through Empirical Work: Blurred Boundaries and their Consequences”. Gender Technology and Development, March 2008, Vol.12 No.1, 9-30.


The definition of trafficking in the United Nation (UN) Protocol on Trafficking from 2000 is the starting point of different countries’ definition of trafficking. In Norway, as in other countries, there are still difficulties in identifying victims of trafficking in the day-to-day work of the police, social workers and others. The definitions of and demarcation between human trafficking and human smuggling have grave consequences for legal approaches, policies and help offered. It is thus necessary to continually discuss how to define trafficking if we want the term to be a fruitful tool in framing the phenomenon—which in turn impacts the ability to aid victims, prevent victimization and to prosecute traffickers.

In this article we approach this matter through two qualitative studies among Nigerian women in prostitution in Norway. Their stories are complex and their travels long, and along the way, their migration and prostitution has been organized by different agents. These agents were sometimes human traffickers; other times smugglers of migrants. In this article, we explore which is which, with the definition in UN’s Trafficking Protocol as our starting point. This article is an attempt to analyze the complexities of the women’s situation in order to link theoretical debates on trafficking definitions with women’s lived experiences.

Full text available here.

x:talk project (2010): Human rights, sex work and the challenge of trafficking.


This report was produced by the x:talk project and the main findings reflect the experiences and views of people working in the sex industry in London. The x:talk project is a grassroots sex worker rights network made up of people working in the sex industry and allies. In addition to providing free English classes to migrant sex workers, we support critical interventions around issues of migration, race, gender, sexuality and labour, we participate in feminist and anti-racist campaigns and we are active in the struggle for the rights of sex workers in London, the UK and globally. The x:talk project has been developed from our experiences as workers in the sex industry. x:talk is sex worker-led not because we think that being a ‘sex worker’ is a fixed identity, but because we believe that those who experience the material conditions of the sex industry are in the best position to know how to change it.

This report demonstrates that for the human rights of sex workers to be protected and for instances of trafficking to be dealt with in an effective and appropriate manner, the co-option of anti-trafficking discourse in the service of both an abolitionist approach to sex work and an anti-immigration agenda has to end. Instead there needs to be a shift at the policy, legal and administrative levels to reflect an understanding that the women, men and transgender people engaged in commercial sexual services are engaged in a labour process. The existing focus in anti-trafficking policy on migration, law enforcement and on the sex industry does not address the needs, choices and agency of trafficked people, whether they work in the sex industry or elsewhere, and prevents migrant and non-migrant people working in the sex industry from asserting fundamental rights.