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Christian Engagement in US Anti-trafficking Activism: Precedents and Contexts (Part 2)

This is the second of a two-part post adapted from Letitia M. Campbell and Yvonne C. Zimmerman, “Christian Ethics and Human Trafficking Activism: Progressive Christianity and Social Critique,” Journal of the Society for Christian Ethics 34:1 (2014). While Part 1 examines briefly the history and impact of Christian activism on anti-trafficking initiatives in the United States, this post focuses on feminism, evangelicalism and anti-trafficking. 

Yvonne is Associate Professor of Christian Ethics at the Methodist Theological School in Ohio near Columbus, OH and Letitia is a Ph.D. candidate and Woodruff Scholar in religion, ethics and society at Emory University in Atlanta, GA. Since 2012 they have been collaborating on developing analyses of and response to human trafficking from a progressive Christian perspective that includes queer, feminist and antiracist commitments.

Political analysts and commentators frequently express surprise at the alliance between feminists and evangelical Christians in the fight against sex trafficking. However surprising to casual observers, this collaboration follows the pattern set by an earlier alliance between feminists and religious conservatives in the anti-pornography movement of the 1970s and 80s. Historian Carolyn Bronstein describes the origins of the feminist anti-pornography movement in grassroots feminist campaigns against images of sexual violence in the mainstream media. She charts the development of feminist alliances with social conservatives in the late 1970s and 1980s, showing how these diverse coalitions worked across pronounced political differences to advance anti-pornography agendas at local, state and national levels. The alliance between secular feminists and conservative Christians on the issue of pornography came to define the anti-pornography movement, and it has had an enduring impact on both the women’s movement and evangelical Christianity. (more…)

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Christian Engagement in US Anti-trafficking Activism: Precedents and Contexts (Part 1)

This is the first of a two-part post adapted from Letitia M. Campbell and Yvonne C. Zimmerman, “Christian Ethics and Human Trafficking Activism: Progressive Christianity and Social Critique,” Journal of the Society for Christian Ethics 34:1 (2014). Part 1 examines briefly the history and impact of Christian activism on anti-trafficking initiatives in the United States. Part 2 will focus on feminism, evangelicalism and anti-trafficking. 

Yvonne is Associate Professor of Christian Ethics at the Methodist Theological School in Ohio near Columbus, OH and Letitia is a Ph.D. candidate and Woodruff Scholar in religion, ethics and society at Emory University in Atlanta, GA. Since 2012 they have been collaborating on developing analyses of and response to human trafficking from a progressive Christian perspective that includes queer, feminist and antiracist commitments.

The significant involvement of evangelical Christians in anti-trafficking activism and advocacy has been widely noted by politicians, legislators, scholars, activists, and social service providers — sometimes approvingly, sometimes with concern. The historical roots of this involvement are less widely discussed, but they are nonetheless critical for understanding the ways that Christian theologies have shaped the goals and strategies of the contemporary US movement to end human trafficking.

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Smarter Funding for Anti-Trafficking Work

This post is by Rebecca Napier-Moore and Mike Dottridge, who have just edited the September 2014 issue of the Anti-Trafficking Review published by the Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women. The issue is themed Following the Money: Spending on anti-trafficking. Six authors contributed research to the volume and five others wrote opinion pieces on how to best spend 10 million dollars in anti-trafficking work. Rebecca and Mike also trawled through mountains of data on anti-trafficking funding to compile a Global Funding Information Sheet and wrote an article (Do We Know Where the Money for Anti-Trafficking is Going?) for discussion at a workshop last year. No research had been done previously on money trails in anti-trafficking work.

Rebecca Napier-Moore is Editor of the Anti-Trafficking Review. She is also a consultant, working most recently for the Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development and UNWomen and has published on women’s empowerment, migrants’ rights, and accountability in anti-trafficking.

Mike Dottridge was guest editor of the September 2014 issue of the Anti-Trafficking Review and is a consultant on human rights issues, based in the United Kingdom. He has previously worked for Amnesty International and for Anti-Slavery International, where he was Director. He is a trustee for the United Nations Voluntary Fund on contemporary forms of slavery, a fund that gives grants worth about USD 0.5 million a year, with about half going to assist people who have been trafficked.

Lots of people talk about money in anti-trafficking work. The ILO has tried to estimate the profits related to forced labour, with a figure of USD 150 billion a year gaining traction. Others have tried to estimate the ‘cost of a slave,’ though we are not sure what this kind of estimate is supposed to achieve apart from fundraising and PR. Governments and businesses are starting to try to ensure ‘trafficking free’ investments and supply chains.

Very rarely does anyone talk about the money that governments and philanthropists give to end trafficking. Doing so involves critiquing a sector that most people see as doing unqualifiedly good work. Critiquing the way money is spent or how much of it is spent involves ‘biting the hand that feeds’ and funds the work. No development/aid sector is perfect, however, and frank conversations about financial transparency are vital to accountability – accountability not only to funders, but also to the people who are supposed to benefit from anti-trafficking funding. (more…)