The 2000 UN Trafficking Protocol has obliged states to discourage demand that fosters exploitation that leads to trafficking. Fifteen years later, there is still no shared understanding of what demand means in the context of debates on trafficking in human beings (THB). The terms “trafficking” and “demand” display a lexical and referential ambiguity. This paper provides a history of the occurrence and usage of the concepts “trafficking” and “demand” in the context of debates on trafficking and explores the different meanings and understandings attached to these terms in past and present debates. The paper covers debates on trafficking in human beings since the 1860s and shows that terminological confusion was and still is a constant feature of these debates. The term abolition referred initially to the abolition of state regulation and not – as it is understood in the present-day debates – to the abolition of prostitution. The term trafficking is introduced in past and present debates with a confusing diversity of meanings, referring to the kidnapping of girls for the purpose of prostitution, fraudulent procurement of unsuspecting women for prostitution abroad, procurement of consenting women for prostitution, abetting of irregular border crossing or fraudulent abetting of irregular migration with the purpose of exploiting migrants after arrival and other issues. The term demand was introduced in past and present debates and has a diversity of meanings. It can refer to the biological drive of males, to a demand generated by a system of state regulation of prostitution, to a demand of brothel owners and pimps, or to a demand of male clients to purchase commercial sexual services. Thus, when the issue of demand is raised in debates of trafficking, the meaning attached to the term in a communication context is usually not clear; and the same speaker can often use the term demand rather metaphorically with changing meanings. The paper shows that terminological confusion is effect and cause of ongoing and unsolved controversies about the legal handling of prostitution. The paper shows how the issue of demand originally entered the UN Trafficking Protocol and how subsequent attempts failed to develop an authoritative definition. Although debates are characterised by terminological ambiguity, even the claim that a definition is a necessity is denied. Conceptual confusion hampers mutual understanding, prevents reasonable dispute and undermines the capacity to develop policy approaches which effectively provide protection from trafficking and exploitation. The paper closes with the observation that the controversy surrounding the meaning of demand in the context of anti-trafficking efforts has the effect of raising attention to deal more directly with the issue of exploitation.
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
- 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.
The ASEM Action Plan to Combat Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and
Children (2001), stressed the need to encourage research on the demand for the most
common forms of exploitation of trafficked women and children, in particular for
commercial sex services, and recommended a multi-country study into the
demand side of trafficking as one of its follow-up actions.
In response to this recommendation, the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs,
Sida and Save the Children Sweden, commissioned the authors to coordinate a pilot
research study on the demand underlying two sectors where the labour/services of
trafficked persons are known to be subject to exploitation: prostitution and domestic
work. This report sets out some of the findings of the pilot study and ongoing
research concerning employer demand for domestic workers in private households,
and consumer demand for commercial sexual services in selected European and Asian
The research discussed in this report suggests that three related factors are key to
explaining the exploitative conditions experienced by many migrant domestic and
sex workers: (a) The unregulated nature of the labour market segments in which they
work; (b) the abundant supply of exploitable labour and (c) the power and malleability
of social norms regulating the behaviour of employers and clients. The continued
expansion of any unregulated market is likely to require and facilitate the exploitation
of vulnerable labour. Both paid sex and domestic work are peculiar market
segments in the sense that there is both political and social unease regarding those
who buy and sell in them as workers or consumers/employers. In both sex and
domestic work, the absence of effective regulation is one of the factors that help to
create an environment in which it is possible and profitable to use unfree labour.
Abstract: In this article, I interrogate how the UK government constructs and manipulates the idiom of the vulnerable female, trafficked migrant. Specifically, I analyse how the government aligns aspects of its anti-trafficking plans with plans to enhance extraterritorial immigration and border control. In order to do this, I focus on the discursive strategies that revolve around the UK’s anti-trafficking initiatives. I argue that discourses of human trafficking as prostitution, modern-day slavery and organised crime do important work. Primarily, they provide the government with a moral platform from which it can develop its regulatory capacity overseas. It is not my intention to suggest that the government’s anti-trafficking plans are superficial, and that extraterritoriality is the sole driver. On the contrary, I argue that complex interrelationships exist and while the government’s interest in protecting vulnerable women from sexual exploitation may seem to be paramount, I assert that in fact it intersects with other agendas at key points. I consider how government action to protect vulnerable women in trafficking ‘source’ and ‘transit’ countries such as development aid and repatriation schemes relate to broader legal and political concerns about protecting the UK from unwanted ‘Others’.
Full text available here.
This article explores dominant discourse on ‘trafficking as modern slavery’ in relation to the many legal and social fetters that have historically been and are today imposed upon individuals who are socially imagined as ‘free’. It argues that discourse on ‘trafficking as modern slavery’ revitalizes the liberal understandings of freedom and restriction that have historically allowed vigorous moral condemnation of slavery to coexist with the continued imposition of extensive, forcible restrictions on individuals deemed to be ‘free’. In place of efforts to build political alliances between different groups of migrants, as well as between migrants and non-migrants, who share a common interest in transforming existing social and political relations, ‘trafficking as modern slavery’ discourse inspires and legitimates efforts to divide a small number of ‘deserving victims’ from the masses that remain ‘undeserving’ of rights and freedoms.
A paper by Prof. O’Connell Davidson on Tackling the ‘Demand Side’ of Trafficking? is freely available here.
Brennan, Denise. “Key Issues in the Resettlement of Formerly Trafficked Persons in the United States.” University of Pennsylvania Law Review. Special Edition: “Trafficking in Sex and Labor: Domestic and International Responses. 158.6 (2010): 1581-1608.
The article presents a study of how individuals who worked under forced labor in the U.S. have rebuilt their lives. It focuses on the struggles within the resettlement process among person whom recognized by the U.S. government as being trafficked. It details on how individuals who were controlled under threats and violence have regained from oppression. Moreover, it emphasized the labor exploitation structure and process not just limited to forced laborers but also to low-waged migrant workers.
Author: Sarah Hunt, Kwakwaka’wakw First Nation, 2010
Citation (MLA): Hunt, S. “Colonial Roots, Contemporary Risk Factors: A Cautionary Exploration of the Domestic Trafficking of Aboriginal Girls and Women in British Columbia, Canada.” Alliance News. July, 2010. 15 August 2013. Web.
In recent years, scholars have taken up the issue of domestic trafficking of Aboriginal girls and women in Canada, asserting that this is an issue of pressing concern in our communities. Indeed, one study reported that Aboriginal women and children make up the majority of people trafficked within Canada. 6 With a lack of available data to clarify the extent and nature of human trafficking in Aboriginal communities, the authors have largely conflated domestic trafficking with youth sexual exploitation, intergenerational violence, and disappearance or abduction, resulting in a muddling of trafficking with other forms of violence and abuse. In order to better inform prevention and education efforts in Aboriginal communities, a more nuanced exploration of the trafficking of Aboriginal girls and women in Canada is needed. Adult sex work, often conflated with sexual exploitation in literature on domestic trafficking of Indigenous women, must also be approached within a rights-based framework rather than throwing it into the mix of exploitation. In this paper, I will draw on my 10years of experience as a community-based researcher, program coordinator and educator on issues of youth sexual exploitation, intergenerational violence and related issues stemming from the colonisation of Indigenous communities in British Columbia (BC), Canada. I will also draw on available research to argue that while Indigenous girls and women in Canada are at heightened risk of human trafficking for the purposes of sexual exploitation, little evidence is available to support the claim that trafficking is a growing issue in our communities. Rather, as others have argued, human trafficking is one of many forms of sexualised violence perpetrated against Aboriginal women, and efforts to address trafficking must simultaneously distinguish between trafficking, youth sexual exploitation, adult sex work, and a range of violent offences while seeing the colonial roots which link various forms of abuse and marginalisation.
Read the full article here: http://www.academia.edu/2038203/Colonial_Roots_Contemporary_Risk_Factors_a_cautionary_exploration_of_the_domestic_trafficking_of_Aboriginal_girls_and_women_in_British_Columbia_Canada