The Multiplicity of Truths About Human Trafficking: Beyond 'The Sex Slave' Discourse

CEU Political Science Journal, Vol. 7, No. 1, 2012, 50-67

18 Pages Posted: 11 May 2012

See all articles by Sule Tomkinson

Sule Tomkinson

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Date Written: 2012

Abstract

Dominant anti-trafficking discourse adopts a single voice in presenting the victim of trafficking as a young, innocent and naïve woman who is deceived and coerced into the sex industry. She suffers physically at the hands of individual men: traffickers, procurers and clients. This is informed by a neo-abolitionist perspective. This article aims to serve as a critique of this discourse by presenting the polarization between two camps in trafficking literature: neo-abolitionists, who see human trafficking as a grave human rights violation that amounts to slavery and equates sex work with trafficking, and pro-rights that perceive it as something within unauthorized international migration, initiated by the women themselves who want to ameliorate their lives. Through a critical literature review, I echo the position of pro-rights group and note that trafficking must be understood and addressed within the larger framework of exploitation of undocumented workers that are vulnerable to exploitation, not from an isolated and distinct location that aims to identify and paternalistically protect “passive victims”.

Keywords: sex work, anti-trafficking, human trafficking, sex slave

Suggested Citation

Tomkinson, Sule, The Multiplicity of Truths About Human Trafficking: Beyond 'The Sex Slave' Discourse (2012). CEU Political Science Journal, Vol. 7, No. 1, 2012, 50-67. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2056287

Sule Tomkinson (Contact Author)

affiliation not provided to SSRN ( email )

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