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Ethnographic evaluation in sexual health – a useful method for improving the impact of preventative trafficking policy and programmes?

Today we are pleased to welcome the following guest post from Stephen Bell. For the past 11 years Stephen has been working in academic, non-governmental, public and private sector-based research and evaluation, with a focus on HIV prevention, sexual and reproductive health, and community-based social development. This post is written from a personal point of view.

He is keen to emphasise that he does not know very much about trafficking. However, he is interested in exploring how gathering local grassroots knowledge can help governmental and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) design and implement more relevant, meaningful and effective programmes and policies. Based on a recent publication about ethnographic evaluation, we contacted him to see if he would be interested in applying some of these ideas to trafficking.

The issue. Several developments have implications for understanding and measuring change in human trafficking in the UK. These include

  • a recent effort by the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) to describe the full extent of human trafficking nationally;
  • knowledge that while trafficking affects families living in interconnected societies worldwide, accurate statistics on numbers affected by trafficking are difficult to produce due to its hidden nature;
  • a growing concern among some involved in international development to find ways of monitoring programmes and assessing impact that are more grounded in people’s everyday lives.

This blog post discusses the potential use of ethnographic evaluation – which has been defined elsewhere as qualitative research underpinned by ethnographic principles for evaluative purposes – to enable practitioners and policy makers to strengthen victim-centred trafficking prevention policy design and programme delivery. (more…)

The cost of emotive language

Another anti-trafficking event; another tear-streaked verse of “We Shall Overcome”. Nothing divides a conference like the predictable videography of trafficked individuals set to music. The reaction is palpable, split between professionals working in the field (those who’ve begrudgingly attended) who avert their eyes out of embarrassment or jaded passivity and the newcomers, moved by visual imagery and heartbreaking accounts. Having attended scores of practitioner and advocate conferences on diverse and sensitive issues, including domestic violence, child abuse, sexual violence and gangs; never have we been subjected to such emotional appeals in a professional environment as in the field of human trafficking. This is not limited to Singapore, of course. At the Oslo Freedom Forum, Julia Ormond reportedly “ended an otherwise thoughtful talk on supply-chain slavery by singing ‘Amazing Grace’. With an echo effect.” (more…)

Infantalising gender in anti-human trafficking policy: demand change

This week, we contributed to The Migrationist’s blog, in recognition of EU/UK Human Trafficking Day.

Included within the European Union Strategy towards the Eradication of Trafficking in Human Beings 2012-2016, announced in June of this year, are five priority areas, the second of which is: prevention of human trafficking including the reduction of demand. To its credit, the strategy attempts to include all forms of trafficking. In an effort to target “consumers and users of services, corporate social responsibility, codes of conduct, business and human rights and initiatives aimed at eliminating human trafficking from the supply chains of businesses,” it goes beyond the sex industry to include agriculture, construction and tourism.

Noticeably, several statements released by NGOs accompanying the announcement of this strategy were keen to emphasize the importance of undertaking a gender perspective by policymakers in future strategy initiatives. For instance, Equality Now “urges a strong focus on addressing the demand for trafficking which would also send a powerful message that the poor and disadvantaged are not for the exploitation of those with greater means.” While the European Women’s Lobby “has long maintained that the only effective way to counter human trafficking is to address its roots in gender inequalities, notably demand for prostitution”. Even the celebratory film festival scheduled for the EU Anti-Trafficking Day unabashedly acknowledges the focus on sex trafficking. So much for a holistic perspective on anti-trafficking initiatives. (more…)

Submission to the consultation on proposed changes in the law to tackle human trafficking (Northern Ireland)

This week, TTRP made a submission to Lord Morrow’s consultation on his private Bill in the Northern Ireland Assembly on human trafficking.

1.            Introduction

1.1          The Trafficking Research Project (TTRP) welcome the opportunity to make a submission to the consultation on proposed changes in the law to tackle human trafficking.  We also welcome the positive motivation behind this Bill and the commitment to improving Northern Ireland’s response to the crime of human trafficking.  Equally important is the engagement with the European Directive on Preventing and Combating Trafficking in Human Beings and Protecting its Victims, with which this Bill seeks to comply with more robustly. (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…)