Road to Hell: Discrimination to Migration to Trafficking of Women?

21 Pages Posted: 7 Nov 2014

See all articles by Danushka Medawatte

Danushka Medawatte

Harvard Law School; University of Colombo - Faculty of Law

Date Written: November 5, 2014


There is much debate as to whether migration leads to trafficking of women. Although there is a comprehensive volume of literature published on the issue, the possibility of establishing a link between human trafficking, inequality and discrimination present in a country has not been substantively explored by academic writings. The author of this paper seeks to present the thesis that inequality and discrimination against women that is present in Sri Lanka, either through statutes or through societal norms – archaic or otherwise, lead to migration that finally contributes to such women falling prey to human traffickers.

The paper is divided into four main segments which guide the reader through the hypothesis that the author has formed for purpose of exploring the aforementioned thesis. The first segment of the paper is on discrimination against women in the Sri Lankan context. In this segment, statutes, customs, existing social norms and attitudes towards equality and non-discrimination are analysed. This is followed by an attempt to build a theoretical framework which could be used as a platform to interpret the existing laws in a manner that would enable to reduce, and finally eliminate, discrimination against women that would make them preys of human trafficking. Extensive references are made in the segment titled ‘Theorising the Framework to Right to Equality’ to existing philosophical debates on the interpretation of the law with a view to grasping a better understanding of how those interpretations affect the understanding of equality.

The third section of this paper explains how inequality leads to migration and the fourth section is an analysis of how migration leads to human trafficking. The paper ends with the author’s suggestions and recommendations which highlight the need for the removal of all discriminatory laws that are prevalent in Sri Lankan law.

Keywords: equality, non-discrimination, migration, human trafficking

Suggested Citation

Medawatte, Danushka, Road to Hell: Discrimination to Migration to Trafficking of Women? (November 5, 2014). Available at SSRN: or

Danushka Medawatte (Contact Author)

Harvard Law School ( email )

1563 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

University of Colombo - Faculty of Law ( email )

P.O. Box 1490
Colombo, 03
Sri Lanka

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