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Monthly Archives: April 2012

Meet the face of human trafficking

She’s the image you’ve seen in media and advocacy campaigns: small, doe-eyed, scared – perhaps illuminated under a red light clutching a teddy bear. She’s been kidnapped, lured by or fallen prey to sex traffickers, or sold by her family into commercial sexual exploitation and/or prostitution. She needs your help. She needs to be rescued, saved…freed.

Meet the perfect human trafficking victim.  (more…)

Joint civil society statement in response to the National Plan of Action against Trafficking in Persons 2012-2015

Hidden out on the big blue sea: trafficked fisherman

Trafficked fisherman – it sounds an unlikely situation doesn’t it?  Fishing conjures up images of retired men perched on riverbanks armed with their lunch in a little box and a flask of tea, or small scale rural fishermen, bobbing along in wooden boats on a tropical ocean.  However, the global demand for cheap fish has to be satiated somehow and one method of keeping costs low is the use of exploited and trafficked labour.  Global demand for affordable seafood is not the only reason for the prevalence of trafficked fisherman.  For instance, according to a key report by the International Organisation for Migration, in Thailand, the impact of Typhoon Gay in 1989 led to the abandonment of the sector by Thai fisherman and the destruction of a large number of boats, which resulted in a labour shortage now filled by fishermen from Cambodia and Myanmar.  Whatever its origins, the trafficking of men, and sometimes boys, for the purpose of labour exploitation at sea is a growing reality in Southeast Asia. (more…)

Human trafficking discourse: the value of economics

Categorizing the movement of trafficked (and exploited) persons through the language of economics has become a fashionable way to digest the complex nature of human trafficking. The prelude to almost any introduction to human trafficking generally goes like this: trafficked people come from sending or source countries, occasionally make their way through transit countries and end up in destination countries, although a specific country can be assigned more than one designation. “Supply” and “demand” are terms generally reserved for trafficked persons; so a “source” country “supplies” trafficked people, a “destination” country is where there is “demand” for the labor or services conducive to exploitation or trafficking.

A great deal of research has been devoted to investigating the specific routes a trafficked person might take and/or analyzing locations on the basis of being a point of supply or demand. As trafficking is an incredibly profitable business, it may seem logical to borrow language from the world of finance and economics; importantly this discourse has successfully influenced research and current policy development.

Clearly, knowing about where people come from and where they end up is crucial in addressing human trafficking, specifically in developing indicators and risk assessments for populations likely to be trafficked in a given source country and the conditions under which they may be trafficked to a given destination country. Activists have also used this language in a call to public action through educational initiatives and legislative changes designed to heighten public awareness and accountability. But, as the field of anti-trafficking develops, how appropriate is this framework? Why has it been so readily absorbed into anti-trafficking advocacy? And to what extent has it constrained policy decisions? Arguably, trafficking rhetoric has stalled in an oversimplified, unimaginative economic discourse; the continued use of this reductionist language potentially ignores the ongoing, flexible nature of trafficking not only as a business, but as a research framework affecting subsequent policy interventions. (more…)