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Tag Archives: Migration and Mobility

Mai, Nicola, P. G. Macioti, Calum Bennachie, Anne E. Fehrenbacher, Calogero Giametta, Heidi Hoefinger, and Jennifer Musto. ‘Migration, Sex Work and Trafficking: The Racialized Bordering Politics of Sexual Humanitarianism’. Ethnic and Racial Studies 0, no. 0 (10 March 2021): 1–22. https://doi.org/10.1080/01419870.2021.1892790.

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The article presents the findings of the SEXHUM project studying the impact of the different policies targeting migrant sex workers in Australia, France, New Zealand, and the United States. It draws on the concept of sexual humanitarianism, referring to how neoliberal constructions of vulnerability associated with sexual behaviour are implicated in humanitarian forms of support and control of migrant populations. Based on over three years of fieldwork we examine the differential ways in which Asian cis women and Latina trans women are constructed and targeted as vulnerable to exploitation, violence and abuse, or not, in relation to racialized and cis-centric sexual humanitarian canons of victimhood. Through our comparative analysis we expose how the implication of sexual humanitarian rhetoric in increasingly extreme bordering policies and interventions on migrant sex workers impacts on their lives and rights, arguing for the urgent need for social reform informed by the experiences of these groups.

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.

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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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Hock, Stefan. 2019. ‘To Bring About a “Moral of Renewal”: The Deportation of Sex Workers in the Ottoman Empire during the First World War’. Journal of the History of Sexuality 28 (3): 457–82.

In January 1915 European consuls in Istanbul gave the city’s police commissioner, Osman Bedri Bey, a list of names of known procurers. The accused traffickers included Russian, Argentinian, Romanian, American, Austrian, French, British, and Greek citizens. All but one of them were deported; 151 were banished from the country, 11 were sent to Sivas, and 5 were sent to Kayseri, cities in the interior of Anatolia that were far removed from the capital.1 Bedri quickly rose through the ranks of Ottoman civil officialdom as he was a close friend of Talaat, the powerful interior minister who became grand vizier in 1917. Read more…

Hoefinger, Heidi, Jennifer Musto, P. G. Macioti, Anne E. Fehrenbacher, Nicola Mai, Calum Bennachie, and 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 9 (1): 1. 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 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. View Full-Text

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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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.

Dadhania, Pooja, Deporting Undesirable Women (October 2, 2018). 9 UC Irvine L. Rev. 53 (2018); California Western School of Law Research Paper No. 18-15. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3259599
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Immigration law has long labeled certain categories of immigrants “undesirable.” One of the longest-standing of these categories is women who sell sex. Current immigration laws subject sellers of sex to an inconsistent array of harsh immigration penalties, including bars to entry to the United States as well as mandatory detention and removal. A historical review of prostitution-related immigration laws reveals troubling origins. Grounded in turn-of-the-twentieth-century morality, these laws singled out female sellers of sex as immoral and as threats to American marriages and families. Indeed, the first such law specifically targeted Asian women as threats to the moral fabric of the United States due to their perceived sexual deviance. Subsequent laws built upon these problematic foundations, largely without reexamining the initial goal of safeguarding American morality from the ostensible sexual threat of noncitizen women. This dark history casts a long shadow, and current laws remain rooted in these archaic notions of morality by continuing to focus penalties on sellers of sex (who tend to be women), without reciprocal penalties for buyers (who tend to be men). Contemporary societal views on sellers of sex have changed, however, as society has come to increasingly tolerate and accept sexual conduct outside the bounds of marriage. Although societal views surrounding prostitution remain complex, there is an increased understanding of the different motivations of sellers of sex, as well as a recognition that individuals forced into prostitution are victims who need protection. Prostitution-related immigration laws should be reformed to no longer penalize sellers of sex, both to bring immigration law in line with modern attitudes towards sellers of sex and to mitigate the discriminatory effect of the archaic and gendered moral underpinnings that initially gave rise to and continue to show in these laws.

Lainez, Nicolas (2018), The Contested Legacies of Indigenous Debt Bondage in Southeast Asia: Indebtedness in the Vietnamese Sex Sector. American Anthropologist. doi:10.1111/aman.13105

Abstract

The modern‐slavery paradigm promotes analogies between contemporary trafficking and the transatlantic, white, and indigenous slave trade. The analogy some scholars use to address debt bondage in past and present Southeast Asia prompted me to consider the hypothesis that the debts incurred by Vietnamese sex workers with moneylenders, procurers, and migration brokers are a remnant of indigenous slavery. However, the ethnographic and legalistic study of debt in the Vietnamese sex sector across Southeast Asia in relation to debt‐bondage traditions provides limited support to the transhistorical thesis. Nonetheless, it throws light on the creditor–debtor relationship and shows that sex workers need credit to finance production and social reproduction in a region undergoing rapid capitalist development, and that because of their exclusion from financial, labor, and labor migration markets, they access it through personalized arrangements that generate strong obligations and dependencies with the potential for restrictions of freedom, in a social structure that promotes patronage, vertical bonding, and dependency.

This article focuses on sex work relations in the Mangue, one of Rio de Janeiro’s red light districts in the 1920s. It follows multiple simultaneous trajectories that converge in Rio’s changing urban landscape: League of Nation’s investigators (some of them undercover), local Brazilian authorities, particularly the police, and Fanny Galper, a former prostitute and madam. It argues that the spatial mobility of the persons involved in sex work is part of broader debates: On the one hand, these experiences of mobility are closely connected to the variegated attempts at surveillance of sex work that characterized Rio de Janeiro in the 1920s and the specific racialized organization of the women’s work as prostitutes. On the other hand, the actors analysed in this article also participated, in different ways, in the production of meanings in broader debates on the international circulation of policies intended to regulate and surveil prostitution. These encounters offer the opportunity to explore some of the intersections between this international circulation of policies, local social dynamics of European immigration, and the racialized history of labor relations in Brazil.

Full article available via academia.edu

Lammasniemi Laura, ‘Anti-White Slavery Legislation and its Legacies in England’ (2017) 9 Anti-trafficking Review.
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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.

Abstract
This article uses Jonathan Simon’s concept of ‘governing through crime’ as a framework to argue that the state has framed sex work, and its surrounding problems, as issues of crime. There has been a privileging and proliferation of criminal justice responses to sex work in England and Wales, at the expense of more social or welfare-based responses and at the expense of creating safer environments for sex workers to work. Criminal law is used to manage and control sex work, to reinforce other policies, such as immigration and border control, and to appear to be doing something about the ‘problem’ of sex work without providing rights to sex workers. By framing sex work as an issue of crime, with sex workers being both the perpetrators of crime and the potential victims of exploitative crime, the state is able to legitimise its actions against sex workers, while ignoring the harm done to sex workers by the state.