This article attempts to understand anti-trafficking interventions in Assam with special reference to sex trafficking. It critically analyses ideologies determining the functioning of anti-trafficking networks and its impact on combating sex trafficking. Of specific concern is to understand the ways in which policies of rescue, rehabilitation and reintegration are implemented and whether such implementation places at its centre the standpoint of the marginalised, that is, women in commercial sex—trafficked or otherwise. This article is based on data collected from rescued trafficked women, current sex workers, state and non-state anti-trafficking personnel, observation at shelter homes and case studies. It argues that anti-trafficking networks in Assam work within the neo-abolitionist approach resulting in the patronisation and infantilisation of women in commercial sex. Despite its effectiveness in certain aspects, it more often than not leaves these women in a state of limbo.
Since the declaration by the United Nations that awareness raising should be a key part of efforts to combat human trafficking, government and non-government organizations have produced numerous public awareness campaigns designed to capture the public’s attention and sympathy. These campaigns represent the ‘problem’ of trafficking in specific ways, creating heroes and villains by placing the blame for trafficking on some, whilst obscuring the responsibility of others. This article adopts Bacchi’s ‘what is the problem represented to be?’ framework for examining the politicization of problem representation in 18 anti-trafficking awareness campaigns. It is argued that these campaigns construct a narrow understanding of the problem through the depiction of ‘ideal offenders’. In particular, a strong focus on the demand for commercial sex as causative of human trafficking serves to obscure the problematic role of consumerism in a wide range of industries, and perpetuates an understanding of trafficking that fails to draw a necessary distinction between the demand for labour, and the demand for ‘exploitable’ labour. This problem representation also obscures the role governments in destination countries may play in causing trafficking through imposing restrictive migration regimes that render migrants vulnerable to traffickers.
Lammasniemi Laura, ‘Anti-White Slavery Legislation and its Legacies in England’ (2017) 9 Anti-trafficking Review.
This paper argues that the foundation of modern anti-trafficking laws in England and Wales was created at the turn of the twentieth century, during the peak of white slavery hysteria. It shows that a series of interrelated legal interventions formed that foundation. While white slavery as a myth has been analysed, this paper turns the focus on legal regulation and shows why it is important to analyse its history in order to understand modern responses to trafficking. It focuses, in particular, on the first legal definition of victims of trafficking, involvement of vigilance associations in law reform, and on restrictions put in place on women’s immigration. Finally, it reflects on how laws enacted at the turn of the twentieth century still resonate with those of today.