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Sex Work vs. Trafficking: Understanding the Difference

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An excellent link, thank you. I shall forward that to my MP, a lady who does not seem able to understand the difference.

Edited by Beaugiles

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Meanwhile here is an interesting article on human trafficking awareness campaigns in the USA.

https://www.opendemocracy.net/beyondslavery/dina-haynes-haynes/wastefulness-of-human-trafficking-awareness-campaigns

An extract:

Campaigns share a common tendency to utilise scare tactics and voyeuristic, often sexualised images. In addition to being ethically questionable, these can actually redirect our attention and resources away from more common forms of exploitation, such as children engaged in child labour, workers picking fruit, catching fish or packaging chicken. Few campaigns concentrate on these types of labour exploitation, preferring ‘sex trafficking’ instead, even though the empirical evidence we have suggests the former is far more common than the latter. In doing so they neglect what should be arguably their largest target group, thereby missing the opportunity to inform migrant labourers of the risks of unscrupulous labour recruiters and entrapment through debt.

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Some interesting observations here from a researcher into human trafficking.

I knew I had only one option: I needed to abandon my confirmation bias (tendency to only believe/consider information that conforms to one’s previously held belief), and follow wherever the research/data led, so that I could publish my dissertation and post-doctoral observations with a clean conscience. That journey (spanning a few more years of research) left me with views on human trafficking that radically disagree with the traditional Evangelical narrative on human trafficking– but so be it. I followed the data honestly, and this is where I landed.

One of the key observations of my study (which relied heavily on examining trafficking organizations through social movement theory) was this: Many faith-based anti-trafficking organizations had slowly blended trafficking and sex work together to the point where many are no longer exclusively anti-trafficking organizations. Instead, many have functionally become anti-trafficking, anti-porn, and anti-prostitution organizations (which is totally their prerogative, but let’s be honest and at least name it).

More at http://www.patheos.com/blogs/formerlyfundie/why-the-anti-trafficking-movement-ignores-the-voices-of-sex-workers/

 

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This academic article has just been published online. It's written in the usual fairly dense academic style, but I found it worth a read. It's the only article in a special issue of Feminist Economics on Sex Work and Trafficking that isn't behind a paywall.

Sex Work and Trafficking: Moving beyond Dichotomies

Francesca Bettio, Marina Della Giusta & Maria Laura Di Tommaso

 

Pages 1-22 | Published online: 19 Jun 2017

Abstract

This contribution examines how feminist economists have conceptualized sex work and trafficking through the lens of agency and stigma. The ongoing debate about legalization has focused on sex workers’ agency and choice, and on the role of stigma in shaping the supply of and demand for sex work. Building on the analysis advanced by contributions to this special issue, this study contends that theoretical and policy debates about sex work are dominated by false dichotomies of agency and stigma. It argues that the relationship between stigma and agency operates along a continuum of contractual arrangements that underpins a high degree of segmentation in the industry. The higher the stigma, the lower tends to be the agency. Current policies toward sex work therefore need reconsideration – especially mounting support for criminalization of clients, which, by increasing stigma, is likely to detract from the agency and the well-being of sex workers, however unintentionally.

http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/13545701.2017.1330547

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And here is something else to remember when you read statistics about human trafficking in the USA:

.....figures from government and law enforcement agencies .... pull hard numbers from arrests and court appearances. Because the legal definition of sex trafficking is intentionally broad, these data often include both consenting sex workers and genuine victims.

Legally, trafficking describes the recruiting, harboring, transporting, provisioning, obtaining, patronizing, or soliciting of a person for the purpose of a commercial sex act. Driving a sex worker, doing a sex worker’s taxes, seeing a sex worker, working with a sex worker ­­— all can get you arrested on trafficking charges. In fact, when two prostitutes work together, each one can be charged for trafficking the other. This definition, capacious to the point of absurdity, muddies discussions about trafficking while stripping consenting sex workers of any autonomy.

From https://www.jacobinmag.com/2017/05/sex-work-criminalization-trafficking-labor-rights published last month.

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And in the above....

Recognising that everybody is working for the same ostensible goal – to better protect sex workers – is the first step towards effective collaboration and progress in the fight against exploitation. This means listening to the opinions and experiences of sex workers and taking their critique of the prevailing ‘trafficking’ discourse seriously.

Oh how true!

 

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