Tag Archives: Anti-Trafficking & Migration

Melissa Ditmore, Sex Workers Project, “The Use of Raids to Fight Trafficking in Persons”. New York: Urban Justice Center, 2009

This report summarizes the findings of a human rights documentation project conducted by the Sex Workers Project in 2007 and 2008 to explore the impacts and effectiveness of current anti-trafficking approaches in the US from a variety of perspectives. It is among the first efforts since the passage of the TVPA to give voice to the perspectives of trafficked persons and sex workers who have experienced anti-trafficking raids. A total of 46 people were interviewed for this report, including immigrant sex workers and trafficked persons who have experienced raids or otherwise had contact with law enforcement, along with service providers, attorneys, and law enforcement personnel.

The data collected from this small to medium-sized sample is extremely rich, and suggests that vice raids conducted by local law enforcement agencies are an ineffective means of locating and identifying trafficked persons. Our research also reveals that vice raids and federal anti-trafficking raids are all too frequently accompanied by violations of the human rights of trafficked persons and sex workers alike, and can therefore be counterproductive to the underlying goals of anti-trafficking initiatives. Our findings suggest that a rights-based and “victim-centered” approach to trafficking in persons requires the development and promotion of alternate methods of identifying and protecting the rights of trafficked persons which prioritize the needs, agency, and self-determination of trafficking survivors. They also indicate that preventative approaches, which address the circumstances that facilitate trafficking in persons, should be pursued over law enforcement based responses.

Full text available here.


Debates over the legitimacy and legality of prostitution have characterized human trafficking discourse for the last two decades. This article identifies the extent to which competing perspectives concerning the legitimacy of prostitution have influenced anti-trafficking policy in Australia and the United States and argues that each nation-state’s approach to domestic sex work has influenced trafficking legislation. The legal status of prostitution in each country and feminist influences on prostitution law reform have had a significant impact on the nature of the legislation adopted.

Alison Clancey, Noushin Khushrushahi, and Julie Ham “Do evidence-based approaches alienate Canadian anti-trafficking funders?” Anti-Trafficking Review, issue 3, 2014, pp. 87-108. 


As a sex worker support organisation, SWAN (Supporting Women’s Alternatives Network) Vancouver’s relationship to anti-trafficking funding remains ambivalent, particularly given the history of anti-trafficking measures that have jeopardised the rights of sex workers. In this article, we share how we, as a small grassroots group, attempt to work through these ambivalences in dialogue with donors. Although SWAN Vancouver works with women who are often perceived to be trafficked (i.e. Asian women in sex work), it is rare for members of SWAN Vancouver to come across any case in the sex-work sector that has the hallmarks of trafficking, such as coerced work. Instead, our anti-trafficking work has mainly involved identifying the harms and human rights violations caused by repressive or misguided anti-trafficking measures. We reflect on our dialogue with two Canadian funders (a federal government agency and a national public foundation) that have considerable resources and immense power to influence what anti-trafficking practices are implemented in Canada. We analyse how these two funders and their adoption of an anti-prostitution analysis of trafficking will likely result in punitive consequences for immigrant sex workers, and therefore increase the need to assist women who have been anti-trafficked rather than trafficked.


Jules Kim and Elena Jeffreys, “Migrant sex workers and trafficking – insider research for and by migrant sex workers”. ALARj 19 (1) (2013) 62-96

Researching marginalised groups is challenging and fraught with ethical issues. These issues can be exacerbated when the researcher is an outsider. Migrant sex workers are a marginalised group due to their position as a sex worker and their migrant status. For outsiders undertaking research with these groups there is the potential for their personal beliefs and moral views around migration, sex work, race, gender and sexuality to influence research methodology, analysis, interpretation and outcomes. Often this has resulted in migrant sex workers being portrayed as victims in need of help, rather than as active, self-determining agents. Much of the research relating to migrant sex workers and trafficking has taken place in institutionalised settings. In such settings, there is good reason for migrant sex workers to identify as coerced victims in need of help rather than as willing migrants who have experienced bad workplace situations and/or who have engaged in alternate migration pathways. Research of this type is usually conducted in detention centres or refuges or worse still – citing difficulties in accessing this population, some researchers will only interview service providers and make conclusions without ever speaking to the target population the research makes claims about. Insiders can more readily gain full and uncompromised access to sex workers affected by trafficking policy outside of institutional settings. In this paper using an example from Scarlet Alliance, Australian Sex Workers Association, we argue for more insider research. We present our methods and discuss how insider led migrant sex work research can lead to credible research outcomes and have many broader benefits for our community.

Full text available here.

Special Issue of the Graduate Journal of Social Science Volume 11, Issue 2 “Blurred Lines: The Contested Nature of Sex Work in a Changing Social Landscape”


Editorial – Blurred Lines: The Contested Nature of Sex Work in a Changing Social Landscape, Laura Connelly, Laura Jarvis-King and Gemma Ahearne

Saving us from penetration – ponderings from a trans rentboy, Jet Young

Between the Sex Industry and Academia: Navigating Stigma and Disgust, Gemma Ahearne

Yeah, they’ve started to get a bit fucking cocky …’ Culture, Economic Change and Shifting Power Relations within the Scottish Lap-Dancing Industry, Billie Lister

Victor or victim? Foregrounding the independent escort experience outside of the polarised debate, Rae Story and Glen Jankowski

Direct sex work in Great Britain: reflecting diversity, Jane Pitcher

The changing landscape of Scottish responses to sex work: addressing violence against sex workers, Emma Smith

Contested spaces: Exploring the intersections of migration, sex work and trafficking in South Africa, Rebecca Walker and Elsa Oliveira

The ‘Rescue Industry’: The blurred line between help and hindrance, Laura Connelly

Photo Essay Tony Stone


All texts fully available for free here. 

Bradley, Clara, and Natalia Szablewska. “Anti-Trafficking (ILL-)Efforts The Legal Regulation of Women’s Bodies and Relationships in Cambodia.” Social & Legal Studies, November 19, 2015, 0964663915614885. doi:10.1177/0964663915614885.
Global imaginations on human trafficking have been captured by a robust mythology that constructs the consenting Third World sex worker as simply a victim of trafficking for sexual exploitation. This anti-trafficking discourse has influenced Cambodia’s legal reform, which has resulted in an increase of abuse against sex workers and has denied Cambodian women their right to marry foreign men. Despite evidence indicating the diversity of the sex industry and its correlation to different levels of sex workers’ autonomy, decision-makers have failed to revise the anti-trafficking framework to reflect the reality of the divergent lives of women who engage in sex as a livelihood.

Lin Lean Lim (International Institute for Labour Studies, International Labour Organization), “Trafficking, Demand and the Sex Market” Paper presented at the International Symposium on Gender at the Heart of Globalization, Paris, March 2007.


Trafficking in persons has emerged high on international, regional and national agendas as a forced labour issue involving particular supply-demand factors in imperfect labour markets at origin and destination. The ILO defines forced labour as all work or service that is exacted from any person under the menace of any penalty and for which the said person has not offered herself or himself voluntarily. Forced labour involves violation of human rights and restriction on human freedom, slavery and slavery-like practices, debt bondage and servitude. Women and men, girls are boys are trafficked, but gender, socio-cultural and market biases determine the type and severity of forced labour in different sectors. The ILO estimated in 2004 that 2.45 million people in forced labour had been trafficked across international boundaries. Of these about 43 per cent had been destined for sexual exploitation, and a third for economic exploitation. Of those trafficked for prostitution, 98 per cent were women and girls.

Until recently, efforts to tackle trafficking tended to focus on the supply side with measures aimed at addressing the conditions, in particular poverty and unemployment, that drive people to leave their home in the first place. Attention has now shifted to the demand side of trafficking, in particular the demand for trafficked persons’ services in the sex market.

The presentation emphasizes that trafficking should not be conflated with prostitution and that a “prohibitionist” or “abolitionist” approach to end demand in the sex market is not an effective solution to tackle trafficking. It examines demand and the demand side of trafficking and the particular characteristics of the market for commercial sexual services, including the economic and social bases of the market. The challenge we face is to address the real root causes of trafficking – the reasons why people migrate and are trafficked and the reasons why other people are able to traffic them. It is not enough merely to regulate the sex market; we need to address the areas of vulnerability. At the same time, the related – and perhaps more difficult – challenge is to place the respect for and protection of human rights at the centre of all measures to combat trafficking and to disentangle human rights concerns from morality biases concerning prostitution.

Full text available here.