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Tag Archives: Critique of Anti-Trafficking

Dina Francesca Haynes, The Celebritization of Human Trafficking, in: The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, Vol 653, Issue 1, pp. 25 – 45.

Abstract

Human trafficking, and especially sex trafficking, is not only susceptible to alluring and sensational narratives, it also plays into the celebrity-as-rescuer ideal that receives considerable attention from the media, the public, and policy-makers. While some celebrities develop enough expertise to speak with authority on the topic, many others are neither knowledgeable nor accurate in their efforts to champion antitrafficking causes. Prominent policy-makers allow celebrity activists to influence their opinions and even consult with them for advice regarding public policies. Emblematic of larger, fundamental problems with the dominant discourse, funding allocations, and legislation in current antitrafficking initiatives in the United States and elsewhere, celebrity activism is not significantly advancing the eradication of human trafficking and may even be doing harm by diverting attention from aspects of the problem and solution that sorely require attention.

Also see:

https://www.opendemocracy.net/beyondslavery/dina-haynes/when-human-trafficking-becomes-cause-celebre

Laite, Julia. 2017. “Between Scylla and Charybdis: Women’s Labour Migration and Sex Trafficking in the Early Twentieth Century.” International Review of Social History:1–29. 

Abstract 

This article explores the discursive and practical entanglements of women’s work and sex trafficking, in Britain and internationally, in the early twentieth century. It examines discussions about trafficking and women’s work during a period that was instrumental in codifying modern, international conceptions of ‘trafficking’ and argues that porous and faulty borders were drawn between sex work, women’s licit work, and their sexual exploitation and their exploitation as workers. These borders were at their thinnest in discussions about two very important sectors of female-dominated migrant labour: domestic and care work, and work in the entertainment industry. The anti-trafficking movement, the international labour movement, and the makers of national laws and policies, attempted to separate sexual labour from other forms of labour. In doing so, they wilfully ignored or suppressed moments when they obviously intersected, and downplayed the role of other exploited and badly-paid licit work that sustained the global economy. But these attempts were rarely successful: despite the careful navigations of international and British officials, work continued to find its way back into discussions of sex trafficking, and sex trafficking remained entangled with the realities of women’s work.

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Abstract

This article examines the vicissitudes that affect the migration trajectories of many Nigerian women who experienced trafficking before arriving in Italy, and end up in Centers for Identification and Expulsion (CIE) for undocumented migrants. Their life stories, collected within the CIE of Ponte Galeria (Rome), revealed violence as “a rule of action” with which these women are obliged to cope with at different levels. Moreover, they highlighted the failure of traditional security approaches to human trafficking, and the necessity to rethink the measures adopted to ensure survivors’ protection and rights. As it is conceived, the system of immigration control prevents the full guarantee of survivors’ rights, often labelling them as “illegal migrants”. Finally, there is the need to extend protection to all survivors of human trafficking even if the crime against them has not happened in Italy.

Sharma, Nandita. “Anti-Trafficking Rhetoric and the Making of a Global Apartheid.” NWSA Journal 17.3 (2005): 88-111.

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.

Full text available here.

Dewey, Susan, Jennifer Hankel, and Kyria Brown. “Transitional Housing Facilities for Women Leaving the Sex Industry: Informed by Evidence or Ideology?” Sexuality & Culture, August 12, 2016, 1–22. doi:10.1007/s12119-016-9379-5.
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This article juxtaposes the results of descriptive and inferential statistical analysis, derived from 125 client case files at a Denver transitional housing facility for women leaving the sex industry, with the results of a content analysis that examined how all 34 similar U.S. facilities represent themselves, their clients, and their services on their websites. Content analysis results ascertained four primary findings with respect to transitional housing facilities for women leaving the sex industry, including their conflation of sex trading with sex trafficking, dominance by Christian faith-based organizations, race-neutral approach, and depiction of their clients as uneducated and socially isolated. Yet our statistical analysis revealed that significant differences exist between women’s sex industry experiences in ways that are strongly determined by ethno-racial identity, age, marital status, and exposure to abuse throughout the life course. Juxtaposing the results of these analyses highlights some rather glaring disconnects between the ways that facility websites depict their clients and the meaningful differences between women seeking services at the Denver transitional housing facility. These findings raise significant concerns regarding approaches that ignore ethno-racial differences, collapse the sex industry’s complexity, make assumptions about the women’s educational or other needs, and neglect the importance of women’s community and relational ties. Taken together, these troubling realities suggest a need for evidenced-based, rather than ideology-based, alternatives for women who wish to leave the sex industry.
Jackson, Crystal A. “Framing Sex Worker Rights How U.S. Sex Worker Rights Activists Perceive and Respond to Mainstream Anti–Sex Trafficking Advocacy.” Sociological Perspectives 59, no. 1 (March 1, 2016): 27–45. doi:10.1177/0731121416628553.
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This article examines how U.S. sex worker rights activists articulate “rights-based frames” to counter mainstream “victim frames” that conflate sex work and sex trafficking. Drawing on interviews with 19 U.S. sex worker rights activists conducted between 2010 and 2012, and participant observation of a national sex worker rights conference in Las Vegas, Nevada in 2010, I illustrate how activists create sex worker rights frames that (1) contest the labeling of sex workers as victims and (2) contest the accuracy and emotionality of stories and statistics used in mainstream anti–sex trafficking efforts. This rights-based framing draws on two master frames, labor rights and equal rights, to redefine the criminalization and stigmatization of sexual labor as a social problem, rather than prostitution itself. In the framing conflict over sex work, a rights-based approach also problematizes the intent and outcomes of anti–sex trafficking efforts to protect and rescue. To the extent that U.S. policy and advocacy efforts assume that sex work is a social problem and morally reprehensible, and that abolition of prostitution is a sound goal, those who challenge these assertions are at a disadvantage for acquiring credibility, voice, and support.

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.