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Conceiving sexual and reproductive health policy

The international policy and research framework to address the sexual and reproductive health needs of trafficked persons is built, unsurprisingly, on a restricted narrative focused on conditions arising as a result of sex trafficking, even though these needs are not limited to sex trafficked individuals. This bias has resulted in a number of neglected areas. First, the current narrative fails to differentiate between issues of sexual health caused by human trafficking and those compounded by it; the difference between, say, acquiring HIV through exploitation and the effect of trafficking on one’s ability to access to anti-retroviral treatment. This parallels a focus on sexual and reproductive health outcomes of trafficking – rather than looking to health needs throughout the trafficking process. Second, it prioritizes sexual exploitation within the sex trade; glossing over sexual abuse that may occur in the context of labor exploitation, for instance. Third, arguably, by perpetuating a policy bias towards sex trafficking, the framework is disengaged from the health impacts of policies that subject exploited migrant women outside sex work to deportation. Fourth, this narrative reinforces a normative framework of family, excluding, importantly, single mothers and simultaneously gendering sexual health by focusing almost exclusively on women. (more…)

Marginalized intersections: the LBGT community and human trafficking

When it comes to creating and politically capitalizing on a narrative constructed around societies’ most marginalized, the field of human trafficking has proven to be a ripe space in which to showcase the “plight” of the most aggrieved. However, in perpetuating a narrow shadow of victimhood, gaps remain in policy and service provision – not to mention research – in the intersections between various potentially underserved groups affected by labor exploitation. In this regard, we are left wondering about the imprint of noticeable silence on the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans) community.

Little information is available pertaining to either policies or service provision to assist LGBT trafficked persons, globally or locally. Research in related areas does exist on the intersections between the LGBT communities regarding their status as: migrants, sex workers, even asylum seekers; but the dearth of research regarding the specific relationship between trafficking (or even migrant labor exploitation) and LGBT community speaks volumes. The discourse at large appears to be non-existent from both academia and NGOs. (more…)