Law, Otherness, and Human Trafficking

69 Pages Posted: 19 Mar 2009 Last revised: 26 Mar 2009

See all articles by Jonathan Todres

Jonathan Todres

Georgia State University College of Law

Date Written: March 18, 2009


Despite concerted efforts to combat human trafficking, the trade in persons persists and, in fact, continues to grow. This article suggests that a central reason for the limited success in preventing human trafficking is the dominant conception of the problem, which forms the basis for law developed to combat human trafficking. Specifically, the author argues that "otherness" is a root cause of both inaction and the selective nature of responses to the abusive practice of human trafficking. Othering operates across multiple dimensions, including race, gender, ethnicity, class, caste, culture, and geography, to reinforce a conception of a virtuous "Self" and a devalued "Other." This article exposes how this Self/Other dichotomy shapes the phenomenon of human trafficking, driving demand for trafficked persons, influencing perceptions of the problem, and constraining legal initiatives to end the abuse. By examining human trafficking through an otherness-aware framework, this article aims to elucidate a deeper understanding of human trafficking and offer a prescription for reducing the adverse effects of otherness on both efforts to combat human trafficking and the individuals that now suffer such abuses.

Keywords: human trafficking, otherness, othering, discrimination, bias, women, children, human rights, international law, culture, race, gender, altruism

JEL Classification: K14, K30, K3, O20, D64, D63, D70, H50, I30

Suggested Citation

Todres, Jonathan, Law, Otherness, and Human Trafficking (March 18, 2009). Santa Clara Law Review, Vol. 49, No. 3, pp. 605-672, 2009, Georgia State University College of Law, Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2009-07, Available at SSRN:

Jonathan Todres (Contact Author)

Georgia State University College of Law ( email )

P.O. Box 4037
Atlanta, GA 30302-4037
United States

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