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Tag Archives: Critique of Anti-Trafficking

Andrijasevic, Rutvica. (2021). Forced labour in supply chains: Rolling back the debate on gender, migration and sexual commerce. European Journal of Women’s Studies, 13505068211020792. https://doi.org/10.1177/13505068211020791

Abstract

This article makes a conceptual contribution to the broader literature on unfree labour by challenging the separate treatment of sexual and industrial labour exploitation both by researchers and in law and policy. This article argues that the prevailing focus of the supply chain literature on industrial labour has inadvertently posited sexual labour as the ‘other’ of industrial labour thus obfuscating how the legal blurring of boundaries between industrial and service labour is engendering new modalities of the erosion of workers’ rights that are increasingly resembling those typical of sex work. This article advances the debate on unfree labour both conceptually and empirically. Conceptually, it highlights the relevance of social reproduction in understanding forms of labour unfreedom. Empirically, it demonstrates the similarities in forms of control and exploitation between sex work and industrial work by illustrating how debt and housing operate in both settings.

Clemente, Mara. 2021. The long arm of the neoliberal leviathan in the counter-trafficking field: the case of Portuguese NGOs. International Review of Sociology, DOI: 10.1080/03906701.2021.1899366

Abstract


In recent decades, in many countries including Portugal, human trafficking has become an important issue on political agendas, attracting increased investment of financial and human resources, and the growing involvement of civil society organizations. Employing a historical perspective, this article analyses the role of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in the counter-trafficking field, in particular, in the conceptualization of human trafficking, the elaboration of counter-trafficking policies and practices, and NGOs’ potentials and limitations in challenging them. Using data obtained through prolonged empirical research, the article argues that in contexts characterized by a high level of institutionalization and structural weakness in organized civil society, NGOs have little chance to assume a role beyond serving as a long arm of the neoliberal state apparatus. Both the outsourcing of certain counter-trafficking services to NGOs and the controversial yet undisputed national security-focused approach to trafficking represent integral parts of the practical logics of the counter-trafficking field, which remains largely unquestioned by counter-trafficking NGOs. These logics include the silencing of any debate about prostitution, at least within the Portuguese counter-trafficking apparatus.

Anglí, Mariona Llobet. ‘Will the End of Prostitution Eradicate Human Trafficking? Four Fallacies in the Abolitionist Approach’. EuCLR European Criminal Law Review 9, no. 1 (2019): 99–119. (Link)

Abstract

The purpose of this paper is to illustrate the ‘war of data’ on prostitution brought on by scholars, politicians, NGOs and the media. The paper also tackles the misleading wordings and realities in place, which significantly shake the empirical and conceptual foundations of abolitionism, thereby challenging abolitionist claims. As will be shown below, the abolitionist approach is flawed by four fallacies: the statistical, the phenomenological, the deductive and the deterrence fallacy. Therefore, we can conclude that there is no empirical evidence that abolishing prostitution would eradicate, or at least decrease, human trafficking for the purposes of sexual exploitation.

Hoefinger, Heidi, Jennifer Musto, PG Macioti, Anne E Fehrenbacher, Nicola Mai, Calum Bennachie, Calogero Giametta (2020) Community-Based Responses to Negative Health Impacts of Sexual Humanitarian Anti-Trafficking Policies and the Criminalization of Sex Work and Migration in the US, Social Sciences, Special Issue: Sex Work, Gender Justice and the Law, 2020, 9(1), 1-30,  https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci9010001

Abstract

System‐involvement resulting from anti‐trafficking interventions and the criminalization of sex work and migration results in negative health impacts on sex workers, migrants, and people with trafficking experiences. Due to their stigmatized status, sex workers and people with trafficking experiences often struggle to access affordable, unbiased, and supportive health care. This paper will use thematic analysis of qualitative data from in‐depth interviews and ethnographic fieldwork with 50 migrant sex workers and trafficked persons, as well as 20 key informants from legal and social services, in New York and Los Angeles. It will highlight the work of trans‐specific and sex worker–led initiatives that are internally addressing gaps in health care and the negative health consequences that result from sexual humanitarian anti‐trafficking interventions that include policing, arrest, court‐involvement, court‐mandated social services, incarceration, and immigration detention. Our analysis focuses on the impact of the criminalization on sex workers and their experiences with sexual humanitarian efforts intended to protect and control them. We argue that these grassroots community‐based efforts are a survival‐oriented reaction to the harms of criminalization and a response to vulnerabilities left unattended by mainstream sexual humanitarian approaches to protection and service provision that frame sex work itself as the problem. Peer‐to‐peer interventions such as these create solidarity and resiliency within marginalized communities, which act as protective buffers against institutionalized systemic violence and the resulting negative health outcomes. Our results suggest that broader public health support and funding for community‐led health initiatives are needed to reduce barriers to health care resulting from stigma, criminalization, and ineffective anti‐trafficking and humanitarian efforts. We conclude that the decriminalization of sex work and the reform of institutional practices in the US are urgently needed to reduce the overall negative health outcomes of system‐ involvement.

Yarfitz, Mir. ‘Marriage as Ruse or Migration Route: Jewish Women’s Mobility and Sex Trafficking to Argentina, 1890s-1930s’. Women in Judaism: A Multidisciplinary e-Journal 17, no. 1 (15 October 2020). https://doi.org/10.33137/wij.v17i1.34964.

Abstract

The victim narrative of the international anti-white slavery movements of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century highlighted the suffering of prostituted women entrapped by violent men. Due to both antisemitic exaggeration and the reality of Ashkenazi Jewish networks of international sex work management in this period, Jews faced particular scrutiny as traffickers, and organized internationally with non-Jewish reformers against the phenomenon. Reformers often decried the shtile khupe, a Jewish religious marriage ceremony without a civil component, as a key trafficking technique. Drawing on League of Nations archives, court records, and the Yiddish, Spanish, and English press, this essay provides a granular social history of marriage and associated relational strategies for cross-border migration and structuring Jewish sex work on the ground in early-twentieth-century Buenos Aires. Evidence from sex workers and their managers pushes against these victimization narratives, reframing marriage as a method to achieve transnational mobility and improve labor and living conditions. Historical and contemporary feminist responses to trafficking share rhetorical strategies and critiques – in both past and present, transnational sex work can be analyzed in a migratory rather than coercive context, centering individuals making difficult choices from among limited options.

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Carrier-Moisan, Marie-Eve. 2019. ‘“A Red Card against Sex Tourism”: Sex Panics, Public Emotions, and the 2014 World Cup in Brazil’. Feminist Formations 31 (2): 125–54. https://doi.org/10.1353/ff.2019.0019.

Abstract
This article examines the campaigns against sex tourism and sex trafficking that have emerged with the advent of several mega-sporting events in Brazil. Drawing on ethnographic research conducted in Natal, one of the twelve host cities of the 2014 World Cup, it focuses on the appeal to emotions in mobilization against sex trafficking and sex tourism. Despite the recent turn to emotions in social sciences, including the role of emotions in politics, there is a dearth of study examining the intersections of emotions and moral panics. Yet expressions of disgust, anger, rage, or outrage commonly accompany moral panics issues. This article engages with how campaigns against sex tourism and sex trafficking associated with the 2014 World Cup materialize through emotional tropes iterated and reiterated in public spaces, or sex panics scripts. More specifically, this article identifies various scripts—the sexually innocent yet violated child, the bad gringo, and the enslaved woman—and points to what gives them their traction. Taken together, these emotional tropes are constitutive of an affective logic that both conflates justice with punishment and repression, and makes certain oppressive interventions and fraught alliances “feel right”—that is, publicly thinkable, possible, and acceptable.

Tyburczy, Jennifer. 2019. ‘Sex Trafficking Talk: Rosi Orozco and the Neoliberal Narrative of Empathy in Post-NAFTA Mexico’. Feminist Formations 31 (3): 95–117.https://muse.jhu.edu/article/748843

Abstract

This article is a case study that draws from three interrelated artifacts from research conducted in Mexico City: an interview with anti-sex trafficking activist Rosi Orozco, the visual rhetoric of iEmpathize, a transnational organization affiliated with the Orozco anti-trafficking network, and Orozco’s 2011 book, Del Cielo al Infierno en un Día. I analyze these artifacts to critique how Orozco, one of the most powerful anti-sex trafficking activists in Mexico City, uses empathy as an affective tool for motivating action. In focusing on these particular artifacts, the objective is to show how empathy can circulate within neoliberal discourses of feeling that are steeped in heteronormative and racialized notions of gender and sexuality. Within sex trafficking discourse in what I refer to as post-NAFTA Mexico, empathy aids in the elision of “prostitution” with “trafficking” and creates visually identifiable “victims” that perpetuate the boom, not just in sex trafficking talk, but in the rescue industry as an economic and cultural force.

Cheng, Sealing. “Echoes of Victimhood: On Passionate Activism and ‘Sex Trafficking.’” Feminist Theory, Oct. 2019, doi:10.1177/1464700119881303.
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Abstract
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The sexually violated woman has become a salient symbol in feminist discourse, government policies, the media and transnational activism at this historical juncture. In this article, I seek to understand the conviction of anti-prostitution activists that all women in prostitution are victims (despite evidence to the contrary), and their simultaneous dismissal or condemnation of those women who identify as sex workers. The analysis identifies the centrality of victimhood to the affective logic of women activist leaders in the anti-prostitution movement, and its embeddedness in discourses of suffering and redemption in Korean nationalist historiography. Sexual victimhood thus acquires the power to incite moral outrage, compel consensus and inhibit dissent. Sex workers further come to bear the historical and political burden of righting all that is wrong with the nation, making their elimination essential for the nation’s rescue. Critiques of capitalism and the state become footnotes and silences in this process. In effect, the victimhood of ‘prostituted women’ allows women activists to circulate effectively in the affective economy of the nation as well as in the global anti-trafficking campaign. The passionate activism of anti-prostitution women activists may say less about the state of prostitution than about the activists’ subjectivity as historical and global subjects, and the symbolic world that they locate themselves in.

Chetry, Pooja, and Rekha Pande. 2019. ‘Gender Bias and the Sex Trafficking Interventions in the Eastern Border of India–Nepal’. South Asian Survey, August, 0971523119862476. https://doi.org/10.1177/0971523119862476.
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Abstract
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The present article looks at gender bias and sex trafficking interventions in the eastern border of India–Nepal. It attempts to understand the socio-economic conditions and other influencing factors that circumscribe a woman’s migration. It documents the interventions by anti-trafficking networks and explores the experience of intercepted women. It attempts to show how interception methods as techniques of intervention to combat trafficking in persons are gender biased. Interception, as a primary method of intervention, is used by anti-trafficking organisations to prevent the occurrence of human trafficking cases in its origin/source country. On suspicion, a woman or a girl crossing the border alone or in all-female groups is stopped and intercepted by the anti-trafficking activists on the ground of her being a potential victim of sex trafficking. Such interception generally takes place within 3 km radius of the border of Panitanki, India, to Kakarbitta, Nepal in order to prevent the unsafe and illegal migration of girls/women. The cross-questioning method is used to extract information and validation about her identity and travel. This article, therefore, examines interception methods as techniques of intervention to combat trafficking in persons. It shows how this intervention method in certain aspect is patriarchal in its form. It reinforces the patriarchal belief of women’s vulnerability in the absence of male authority leading to discreet dangers.

Jean Allain, “No Effective Trafficking Definition Exists: Domestic Implementation of the Palermo Protocol”. 7 Alb. Govt. L. Rev. 112 (2014), 111.

This Article considers the overall regime established by the 2000 Palermo Protocol to demonstrate the manner in which the legal order of States. In so doing, and with special reference to the definition of trafficking, it shows the limited ability of States to actually carry out their avowed wish to suppress the trafficking in persons. Because their jurisdiction over what is termed ‘trafficking’ is different, the ability for the origin, transit, and/or destination countries to ‘join-up’ is rendered unworkable by, for instance, extradition treaties that require crimes to be common to both jurisdictions, or the application of extraterritorial jurisdiction when what is deemed a crime in one jurisdiction is not so in another. Thus, in a very short period of time, legislators around the world have created, under the banner of ‘trafficking,’ an international regime which, through its implementation in the domestic sphere, has fractured its potential effectiveness.

Full article available here.