This article examines the paradoxes of neoliberalism through two migrant sex workers’ negotiation of the transnational disciplinary regimes of morality, national security, and humanitarianism. We take as our point of departure their active resistance to the label of “victims of sex trafficking.” From a close analysis of their migration journey and their experiences in the United States, we come to understand these women as defiant neoliberal subjects. We argue that global anti-trafficking initiatives as they have taken shape in the twenty-first century are part of neoliberal governance. The women’s sexual labor subjects them to the scrutiny and penalty of the state. Yet they see themselves as self-sufficient, self-responsible, and self-enterprising individuals. We locate these tensions within three paradoxes of neoliberalism: the apparent amorality of neoliberalism and its facilitation of a conservative moral agenda; the depoliticization of social risks and the hyperpoliticization of national security; and the continuous creation and ravaging of vulnerable populations coupled with the celebration of humanitarian/philanthropic responses from governmental and NGO sectors. Juxtaposing these women’s self-making projects with the transnational state apparatus to combat “sex trafficking,” we gain insights into how individual pursuits and state practices intersect at this neoliberal moment—despite their different purposes.
Shah, Svati P. (2011): Sex work and the Women’s Movements.
This paper places the development of sex workers’ movements over the past two decades within the historical context of feminist discourses on violence against women. The paper discusses the importance of the discourse on violence against women in framing contemporary abolitionist campaigns that seek to criminalize sex work. It goes on to discuss the contemporary context, including the status of alliances and dialogue between women’s, LGBTQ, and sex workers’ movements, focusing on India. The history of responses to the HIV/AIDS epidemic and the question of agency are also discussed. The paper ultimately calls into question the effects of using a liberal framework to craft interventions in the governance of sexual commerce.
This paper argues that potential cases of oppression, such as sex trafficking, can sometimes comprise autonomous choices by the trafficked individuals. This issue still divides radical from liberal feminists, with the former wanting to ‘rescue’ the ‘victims’ and the latter insisting that there might be good reasons for ‘hiding from the rescuers.’ This article presents new arguments for the liberal approach and raises two demands: first, help organizations should be run by affected women and be open-minded about whether or not the trafficked individuals should remain in the sex industry. Second, the career choices of trafficked individuals should be expanded by the introduction of an opportunity-extending right to asylum.
This article undertakes a critical analysis of counter-trafficking measures in Italy, particularly the Social Protection Program introduced under the 1998 Migration Law for victims experiencing violence and “extreme exploitation”, in relation to the experiences of Nigerian sex workers in the city of Turin. The experiences of Nigerian sex workers in Turin are diverse and complex, as most of the women are undocumented, making them highly vulnerable to exploitative debt and labor contracts, as well as abuse and violence from employers, clients and government authorities. This research found that while the protection program has been fortunate for some beneficiaries, it fails to address the vulnerabilities faced by migrant sex workers. One of the shortcomings of the program is that it protects victims only if they suffer severe forms of violence, provide information that helps in the arrest of traffickers, and tell a “convincing story” that underscores their role as “innocent victims.” It ignores the complexity of the experiences of undocumented migrants who engage in commercial sex work and the multiple challenges they face. It overemphasizes a particular and narrowly defined form of victimization while rendering other forms of victimization invisible. Counter-trafficking measures may offer a modicum of protection for a specific and small group of undocumented migrants in the sex industry. However, when combined with increasing restrictions on migration and sex work, the counter-trafficking measures actually increase the vulnerability of the majority of migrant sex workers, and strengthen the networks of traffickers.
Asa Yttergren *
Sweden is often described in terms of its high level of gender equality, which is associated with its institutionalized welfare. The quite radical official Swedish ambition regarding gender equality is laid down in many public documents. Within this context, prostitution is conceptualized as an extreme expression of gender inequality (see Gunnarsson and Svensson in this issue). The aim of this article is to provide an overview of the official Swedish attitude towards trafficking in persons for sexual purposes (hereafter referred to as trafficking), to place this view in an international context, and also to critically analyze problems that arise when the official Swedish objective of establishing gender equality is confronted with the issue of women who have been trafficked to Sweden.
The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science:
Special Issue: Human Trafficking: Recent Empirical Research Edited by: Ronald Weitzer and Sheldon X. Zhang
Table of Contents
New Directions in Research on Human Trafficking
The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, May 2014; vol. 653: pp. 6-24
Stephanie M. Berger, “No End in Sight: Why the End demand Movement is the Wrong Focus for Efforts to Eliminate Human Trafficking” 35 Harvard Journal of Law & Gender 523 (2012).
Full text available here.
There is no dispute that human trafficking is a pervasive problem. The International Labor Organization and the United States State Department estimate that there are more than 12 million people in “forced labor and sexual servitude” worldwide. The State Department estimates that between 14,500 and 17,500 people are trafficked into the United States annually. Sex trafficking, specifically, undoubtedly occurs in the United States — all one needs to do is read the local newspaper to find horrific accounts of women and children enslaved and abused in major cities across the country. However, there is no way to know exactly how many trafficking victims in general and sex trafficking victims specifically exist in the United States, in part due to the United States’ problematic conflation of human trafficking and prostitution. This conflation has enshrined the ideals of abolitionist feminists, who believe that prostitution is inherently coercive and abusive, and has refused to acknowledge the pro-work position that views prostitution on a spectrum including both forced and voluntary sex work. Abolitionist ideals have most recently taken hold in End Demand efforts, which focus on criminalizing, punishing, and shaming men who buy sex as purported solutions to both prostitution and human trafficking. This Article takes a pro-work position and aims to demonstrate the potential harms of End Demand policies. It also proposes more productive methods for addressing human trafficking in the United States.
- Sex, Money, and Brutality, by Sutapa Basu
- Trafficking for Organ Removal, by Anne T. Gallagher
- Life Beyond Trafficking, by Denise Brennan
- The Anti-Trafficking Rehabilitation Complex, by Elena Shih
- Human Wrongs vs. Human Rights, by Kari Lerum
- Macro Claims Versus Micro Evidence, by Ronald Weitzer
As of today, the pieces are freely accessible. This may not be the case in the future.
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.
Danna, Daniela (2012): Client-Only Criminalization in the City of Stockholm: A Local Research on the Application of the “Swedish Model” of Prostitution Policy, Journal Sexuality Research and Social Policy Volume 9, Issue 1 , pp 80-93
The Swedish prostitution policy model aims at abolishing prostitution, the direct exchange of sexual services for money or other values, by penalizing only its demand. Offering sexual services is not punished by law. According to official sources, preventing prostitutes from earning by selling sexual services is a way of pressuring them into abandoning the trade, and it discourages trafficking in women. How is this policy model implemented at the local level? Seven years after the new law against clients came into force, a research in Stockholm contributes to mapping shifts in prostitution. It reports on the activities of social services and police efforts against clients and trafficking and discusses the evaluations made by other researchers on Swedish prostitution and trafficking laws, including the official evaluation (SOU 2010, 49).