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.
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.
The present paper deals with Chinese transnational sex labour migration in the city of Douala, the economic capital of Cameroon and the country’s major city. Based on ethnographic research conducted in the prostitution milieu of Douala between 2008 and 2012, and on information collected from both scholarly and popular literature, this contribution shows how the development in this African city of what can be called Chinese sexoscapes has induced the reconfiguration of the local geography of commercialised sex work, which for so long was dominated by native sex workers. The paper also demonstrates how many disgruntled Duala sex workers dealt with the so-called Chinese sex invasion of their city by relocating their business to popular entertainment areas commonly characterised in Cameroon as rue de la joie (street of enjoyment). The research argues that this local geography of sexualities has become a site for asserting ethnic, racial or national identity, and especially a space of both inclusion of people profiled as autochthon populations and the exclusion of those branded foreigners.
Dewey, Susan (2012): The Feminized Labor of Sex Work – Two Decades of Feminist Historical and Ethnographic Research, in: Labor 9(2); pp. 113-132.
Full article available here.
Sex work, broadly defined as the exchange of sexual intimacy for something of value, has become a popular subject of academic interrogation in the past two decades. Scholarly studies on the subject frequently document the lives of marginalized individuals who employ the strategic use of sex or sexualized attention as a means to survive or, less frequently, to attain social mobility. While it is difficult to make generalizations about the nuanced and individualized nature of transactional sex, the literature on the subject has surmounted this difficulty by alternately embracing and contesting major trends in feminist scholarship itself. ….
(2009): Migration, Agency and Citizenship in Sex Trafficking. Migration, Minorities and Citizenship. (Book) (Browse inside at amazon.co.uk
Providing a new perspective on migration and sex work in Europe, this book is based on interviews with migrant women in the sex sector. It brings together issues of migration, labour and political subjectivity in order to refocus scholarly and policy agenda away from sex slavery and organized crime, towards agency and citizenship.
This book resets the agenda on sex trafficking. Methodologically daring, it brings poststructuralist approaches on migration, labour and political subjectivities to existing studies on European integration, labour markets and gender-based violence. By linking a number of scholarly debates and discursive areas that are not commonly brought together in studies on sex trafficking, this study sets out to expose the link between sex trafficking and the constitution of citizenship, and advance a scholarly re-conceptualization of ‘sex trafficking’ grounded in the particularity of the European situation. Based on original ethnographic interviews with migrant women in the sex sector, the book shifts the theorization of sex trafficking away from the criminalization paradigm and towards a new theory of agency and citizenship.
Bravo, Karen E., Free Labor! A Labor Liberalization Solution to Modern Trafficking in Humans (August 13, 2008). Transnational Law & Contemporary Problems, 2009. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1224422
According to varied sources, 27 million people worldwide are enslaved and 4 million individuals are trafficked annually across international borders, including 17,500 people into the United States. The trade in human beings has significant ramifications for international human rights, international criminal law, and the global economy. Despite the expenditure of a great deal of intellectual, economic, psychological, and other resources to prevent and punish the traffic in human beings, the trade appears to grow annually in scope. Read More