This article examines the migration of women for prostitution around the Mediterranean Sea, particularly to and within the Middle East and North Africa, in the interwar period. Reading League of Nations’ reports on traffic in women and children along with other published and archival sources, it situates women’s mobility within three significant waves of migration at the time: of south European men and women to Europe’s colonies in North Africa; of east European Jews westwards and southwards; and of Syrians outside of Mt. Lebanon. It shows how women’s migration can be explained and traced by following such temporary travelers as tourists, sailors, and soldiers and such more permanent migrants as settlers, refugees, and labor migrants. By using the category of migration, this article argues that “traffic in women” is insufficient as an analytical category in accounting for the geography of prostitution and prostitutes’ international mobility in the interwar Mediterranean.
In this paper, I argue that the implementation of the “Swedish model”—the criminalization of the purchase of sex—in Northern Ireland in 2014 provides an example of a morality-driven policy process in which the actual concerns of sex workers were distorted and dismissed. In the policy debate, sex workers were portrayed as victims who had no choice—a claim passionately refuted by many sex workers. As a result of the narrow focus on “victim vs. free choice,” there has been little room to discuss the actual working conditions of sex workers and the structural constraints that inhibit their freedom and negatively affect their well-being. In this paper, I present the contradictions and conflicts between the personal opinions of Northern Irish policy-makers on one hand and the actual experiences and views of sex workers on the other. By juxtaposing these views, I facilitate a belated conversation between policy-makers and sex workers—a conversation which can inform policy debates in other jurisdictions.
This essay critically examines the historical and contemporary discursive practices of anti-trafficking campaigns. I argue that such campaigns within the global North, often led by feminists, constitute the moral reform arm of contemporary anti-immigrant politics that targets negatively racialized migrants. As in the past, current campaigns collude with a state-backed international security agenda aimed at criminalizing self-determined migrations of people who have ever-less access to legal channels of migration. I argue that only by recognizing the agency, however constrained, of illegalized migrants can we come to understand how processes of capitalist globalization and the consequent effects of dislocation and dispersal shape the mobility of illegalized migrants. Within the current global circuits of capital, goods, and people, I argue that along with a call to end practices of displacement, a demand to eliminate immigration controls is necessary if feminists are to act in solidarity with the dispossessed in their search for new livelihoods and homes.