Brokered Subjects digs deep into the accepted narratives of sex trafficking to reveal the troubling assumptions that have shaped both right- and left-wing agendas around sexual violence. Drawing on years of in-depth fieldwork, Elizabeth Bernstein sheds light not only on trafficking but also on the broader structures that meld the ostensible pursuit of liberation with contemporary techniques of power. Rather than any meaningful commitment to the safety of sex workers, Bernstein argues, what lies behind our current vision of trafficking victims is a transnational mix of putatively humanitarian militaristic interventions, feel-good capitalism, and what she terms carceral feminism: a feminism compatible with police batons.
Are sex workers victims, criminals, or just trying to make a living? Over the last five years, public policy and academic discourse have moved from criminalization of sex workers to victim-based understanding, shaped by human trafficking. While most research focuses on macro-level policies and theories, less is known about the on-the-ground perspectives of people whose lives are impacted by sex work, including attorneys, social workers, police officers, probation officers, and sex workers themselves.
Challenging Perspectives on Street-Based Sex Work brings the voices of lower-echelon sex workers and those individuals charged with policy development and enforcement into conversation with one another. Chapters highlight some of the current approaches to sex work, such as diversion courts, trafficking task forces, law enforcement assisted diversion and decriminalization. It also examines how sex workers navigate seldom-discussed social phenomenon like gentrification, pregnancy, imperialism, and being subjects of research. Through dialogue, our authors reveal the complex reality of engaging in and regulating sex work in the United States and through American aid abroad.
Contributors include: Aneesa A. Baboolal, Marie Bailey-Kloch, Mira Baylson, Nachale “Hua” Boonyapisomparn, Belinda Carter, Jennifer Cobbina, Ruby Corado, Eileen Corcoran, Kate D’Adamo, Edith Kinney, Margot Le Neveu, Martin A. Monto, Linda Muraresku, Erin O’Brien, Sharon Oselin. Catherine Paquette, Dan Steele, Chase Strangio, Signy Toquinto, and the editors.
Recent human rights campaigns against sex trafficking have focused on individual victims, treating trafficking as a criminal aberration in an otherwise just economic order. In Economies of Violence Jennifer Suchland directly critiques these explanations and approaches, as they obscure the reality that trafficking is symptomatic of complex economic and social dynamics and the economies of violence that sustain them. Examining United Nations proceedings on women's rights issues, government and NGO anti-trafficking policies, and campaigns by feminist activists, Suchland contends that trafficking must be understood not solely as a criminal, gendered, and sexualized phenomenon, but as operating within global systems of precarious labor, neoliberalism, and the transition from socialist to capitalist economies in the former Soviet Union and Eastern Bloc. In shifting the focus away from individual victims, and by underscoring trafficking's economic and social causes, Suchland provides a foundation for building more robust methods for combatting human trafficking.
In the aftermath of four Yugoslav wars, ongoing efforts at reconstruction in South Eastern Europe have devoted relatively limited attention to dimensions of human security that enhance protections for the region's most vulnerable populations in their daily lives. It is in this context that South Eastern Europe, and especially the Western Balkan region, has emerged as a nexus point in human trafficking.
Human Trafficking, Human Security, and the Balkans brings together leading scholars, NGO representatives, and government officials to analyze and offer solutions to this challenge. The contributors explore the economic dynamics of human trafficking in an era of globalization, which has greatly facilitated not only the flow of goods and services but also the trade in human beings. They also examine the effectiveness of international and transnational policies and practice, the impact of peacekeeping forces, and the emergence of national and regional action plans in the Western Balkans and, more broadly, in South Eastern Europe. Finally, they consider the nature and ramifications of the gap between human security rhetoric and institutional policy steps against human trafficking.
Impure Migration investigates the period from the 1890s until the 1930s, when prostitution was a legal institution in Argentina and the international community knew its capital city Buenos Aires as the center of the sex industry. At the same time, pogroms and anti-Semitic discrimination left thousands of Eastern European Jewish people displaced, without the resources required to immigrate. For many Jewish women, participation in prostitution was one of very few ways they could escape the limited options in their home countries, and Jewish men facilitate their transit and the organization of their work and social lives. Instead of marginalizing this story or reading it as a degrading chapter in Latin American Jewish history, Impure Migration interrogates a complicated social landscape to reveal that sex work is in fact a critical part of the histories of migration, labor, race, and sexuality.
Life Interrupted introduces us to survivors of human trafficking who are struggling to get by and make homes for themselves in the United States. Having spent nearly a decade following the lives of formerly trafficked men and women, Denise Brennan recounts in close detail their flight from their abusers and their courageous efforts to rebuild their lives. At once scholarly and accessible, her book links these firsthand accounts to global economic inequities and under-regulated and unprotected workplaces that routinely exploit migrant laborers in the United States. Brennan contends that today's punitive immigration policies undermine efforts to fight trafficking. While many believe trafficking happens only in the sex trade, Brennan shows that across low-wage labor sectors—in fields, in factories, and on construction sites—widespread exploitation can lead to and conceal forced labor. Life Interrupted is a riveting account of life in and after trafficking and a forceful call for meaningful immigration and labor reform.
All royalties from this book will be donated to the nonprofit Survivor Leadership Training Fund administered through the Freedom Network.
Despite continued public and legislative concern about sex trafficking across international borders, the actual lives of the individuals involved—and, more importantly, the decisions that led them to sex work—are too often overlooked. With Mobile Orientations, Nicola Mai shows that, far from being victims of a system beyond their control, many contemporary sex workers choose their profession as a means to forge a path toward fulfillment.
Using a bold blend of personal narrative and autoethnography, Mai provides intimate portrayals of sex workers from sites including the Balkans, the Maghreb, and West Africa who decided to sell sex as the means to achieve a better life. Mai explores the contrast between how migrants understand themselves and their work and how humanitarian and governmental agencies conceal their stories, often unwittingly, by addressing them all as helpless victims. The culmination of two decades of research, Mobile Orientations sheds new light on the desires and ambitions of migrant sex workers across the world.
This book challenges every common presumption that exists about the trafficking of women for the sex trade. It is a detailed account of an entire population of trafficked Albanian women whose varied experiences, including selling sex on the streets of France, clearly demonstrate how much the present discourse about trafficked women is misplaced and inadequate. The heterogeneity of the women involved and their relationships with various men is clearly presented as is the way women actively created a panoptical surveillance of themselves as a means of self-policing. There is no artificial divide between women who were deceived and abused and those who “choose” sex work; in fact the book clearly shows how peripheral involvement in sex work was to the real agenda of the women involved. Most of the women described in this book were not making economic decisions to escape desperate poverty nor were they the uneducated naïve entrapped into sexual slavery. The women’s success in transiting trafficking to achieve their own goals without the assistance of any outside agency is a testimony to their resilience and resolve.
Jessica R. Pliley Harvard University Press, 2014 Library of Congress HQ125.U6P62 2014 | Dewey Decimal 364.153409730904
Jessica Pliley links the crusade against sex trafficking to the FBI’s growth into a formidable law agency that cooperated with states and municipalities in pursuit of offenders. The Bureau intervened in squabbles on behalf of men intent on monitoring their wives and daughters and imprisoned prostitutes while seldom prosecuting their male clients.
We live in a world where seemingly everything can be measured. We rely on indicators to translate social phenomena into simple, quantified terms, which in turn can be used to guide individuals, organizations, and governments in establishing policy. Yet counting things requires finding a way to make them comparable. And in the process of translating the confusion of social life into neat categories, we inevitably strip it of context and meaning—and risk hiding or distorting as much as we reveal.
With The Seductions of Quantification, leading legal anthropologist Sally Engle Merry investigates the techniques by which information is gathered and analyzed in the production of global indicators on human rights, gender violence, and sex trafficking. Although such numbers convey an aura of objective truth and scientific validity, Merry argues persuasively that measurement systems constitute a form of power by incorporating theories about social change in their design but rarely explicitly acknowledging them. For instance, the US State Department’s Trafficking in Persons Report, which ranks countries in terms of their compliance with antitrafficking activities, assumes that prosecuting traffickers as criminals is an effective corrective strategy—overlooking cultures where women and children are frequently sold by their own families. As Merry shows, indicators are indeed seductive in their promise of providing concrete knowledge about how the world works, but they are implemented most successfully when paired with context-rich qualitative accounts grounded in local knowledge.
In Sex Trafficking, Scandal, and the Transformation of Journalism, Gretchen Soderlund offers a new way to understand sensationalism in both newspapers and reform movements. By tracing the history of high-profile print exposés on sex trafficking by journalists like William T. Stead and George Kibbe Turner, Soderlund demonstrates how controversies over gender, race, and sexuality were central to the shift from sensationalism to objectivity—and crucial to the development of journalism in the early twentieth century.
Johanna S. Ransmeier Harvard University Press, 2017 Library of Congress HQ281.R26 2017 | Dewey Decimal 306.850951
Trade in human lives thrived in North China during the Qing and Republican periods. Families at all social levels participated in buying servants, slaves, concubines, or children and disposing of unwanted household members. Johanna Ransmeier shows that these commonplace transactions built and restructured families as often as it broke them apart.
“Welcome to the European family!” When East European countries joined the European Union under this banner after 1989, they agreed to the free movement of goods, services, capital, and persons. In this book, Anca Parvulescu analyzes an important niche in this imagined European kinship: the traffic in women, or the circulation of East European women in West Europe in marriage and as domestic servants, nannies, personal attendants, and entertainers. Analyzing film, national policies, and an impressive range of work by theorists from Giorgio Agamben to Judith Butler, she develops a critical lens through which to think about the transnational continuum of “women’s work.”
Parvulescu revisits Claude Lévi-Strauss’s concept of kinship and its rearticulation by second-wave feminists, particularly Gayle Rubin, to show that kinship has traditionally been anchored in the traffic in women. Reading recent cinematic texts that help frame this, she reveals that in contemporary Europe, East European migrant women are exchanged to engage in labor customarily performed by wives within the institution of marriage. Tracing a pattern of what she calls Americanization, Parvulescu argues that these women thereby become responsible for the labor of reproduction. A fascinating cultural study as much about the consequences of the enlargement of the European Union as women’s mobility, The Traffic in Women’s Work questions the foundations of the notion of Europe today.
Women and children have been bartered, pawned, bought, and sold within and beyond Africa for longer than records have existed. This important collection examines the ways trafficking in women and children has changed from the aftermath of the “end of slavery” in Africa from the late nineteenth century to the present.
The formal abolition of the slave trade and slavery did not end the demand for servile women and children. Contemporary forms of human trafficking are deeply interwoven with their historical precursors, and scholars and activists need to be informed about the long history of trafficking in order to better assess and confront its contemporary forms. This book brings together the perspectives of leading scholars, activists, and other experts, creating a conversation that is essential for understanding the complexity of human trafficking in Africa.
Human trafficking is rapidly emerging as a core human rights issue for the twenty-first century. Trafficking in Slavery’s Wake is excellent reading for the researching, combating, and prosecuting of trafficking in women and children.
Contributors: Margaret Akullo, Jean Allain, Kevin Bales, Liza Stuart Buchbinder, Bernard K. Freamon, Susan Kreston, Benjamin N. Lawrance, Elisabeth McMahon, Carina Ray, Richard L. Roberts, Marie Rodet, Jody Sarich, and Jelmer Vos.
The history of human beings bought and sold, forced into lives of abject servitude or sexual slavery, is a story as old as civilization and yet still of global concern today. How this story is told, Julietta Hua argues, says much about our cultural beliefs. Through a critical inquiry into representations of human trafficking, she reveals the political, social, and cultural strains underlying our current preoccupation with this issue and the difficulty of framing human rights in universal terms.
In Trafficking Women’s Human Rights, Hua maps the ways in which government, media, and scholarship have described sex trafficking for U.S. consumption. As her investigation takes us from laws like the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act to political speeches and literary and media images, it uncovers dark assumptions about race, difference, and the United States’ place in the world expressed—and often promoted—by such images. The framing itself, exploiting dichotomies of victim/agent, rescued/rescuer, trafficked/smuggled, illustrates the limits of universalism in addressing human rights.
Uniquely broad in scope, this work considers the laws of human trafficking in conjunction with popular culture. In doing so, it constructively draws attention to the ways in which notions of racialized sexualities form our ideas about national belonging, global citizenship, and, ultimately, human rights.
The United States has taken the lead in efforts to end international human trafficking-the movement of peoples from one country to another, usually involving fraud, for the purpose of exploiting their labor. Examples that have captured the headlines include the 300 Chinese immigrants that were smuggled to the United States on the ship Golden Venture and the young Mexican women smuggled by the Cadena family to Florida where they were forced into prostitution and confined in trailers.
The public's understanding of human trafficking is comprised of terrible stories like these, which the media covers in dramatic, but usually short-lived bursts. The more complicated, long-term story of how policy on trafficking has evolved has been largely ignored. In The War on Human Trafficking, Anthony M. DeStefano covers a decade of reporting on the policy battles that have surrounded efforts to abolish such practices, helping readers to understand the forced labor of immigrants as a major global human rights story.
DeStefano details the events leading up to the creation of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000, the federal law that first addressed the phenomenon of trafficking in persons. He assesses the effectiveness of the 2000 law and its progeny, showing the difficulties encountered by federal prosecutors in building criminal cases against traffickers. The book also describes the tensions created as the Bush Administration tried to use the trafficking laws to attack prostitution and shows how the American response to these criminal activities was impacted by the events of September 11th and the War in Iraq.
Parsing politics from practice, this important book gets beyond sensational stories of sexual servitude to show that human trafficking has a much broader scope and is inextricable from the powerful economic conditions that impel immigrants to put themselves at risk.