Stop Traffic: Using Expert Witnesses to Disrupt Intersectional Vulnerability in Sex Trafficking Prosecutions

83 Pages Posted: 17 Jul 2019

See all articles by Blanche Cook

Blanche Cook

Wayne State University Law School

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: 2018

Abstract

Sex trafficking thrives on intersectional inequality and reinforcing layers of vulnerability. Sex trafficking exists on a continuum of sexualized violence, from microaggressive sexual harassment to macroaggressive gang rapes, all of which create vulnerability in the victim and perfect sovereignty in the perpetrator. Sexualized violence performs power, as it is raced, classed, and gendered. Power not only requires performance, but it necessitates repetitive reenactments of domination in order to normalize its compulsive and pathological nature. Lynchings, police shootings, gang rapes, and sex trafficking are all performances of power on vulnerable bodies through which power perfects itself. The same inequality that creates the necessary preconditions for vulnerability to violence in the first instance, also obfuscates or masks power’s pathology and compulsivity in the investigative and adjudicative processes. By way of illustration, victim blaming renders the pathology of the perpetrator invisible because it removes accountability from the perpetrator and shifts blame onto the victim. Shifting blame onto the victim obfuscates or hides power’s omnipresence, compulsiveness, and pathology. The victim blaming process is pervasive, systemic, and entrenched. Without proper interventions, sex trafficking cases can become ritualized spectacle, where sexualized violence as well as its accompanying investigation and adjudication convince the factfinder of the pathology of the victim and the sovereignty of the perpetrator. The pathology that surrounds victims of sexualized violence adversely impacts their credibility and extends narratives about male entitlement to vulnerable bodies. The recent cases involving R. Kelly and Cyntoia Brown illustrate these points. In the case of singer, song writer Kelly, his videotaping sex with an underaged black female resulted in an acquittal.

Suggested Citation

Cook, Blanche, Stop Traffic: Using Expert Witnesses to Disrupt Intersectional Vulnerability in Sex Trafficking Prosecutions (2018). 24 Berkeley J. Crim. L. 147 (2019); Wayne State University Law School Research Paper No. 2018-44 . Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3421055

Blanche Cook (Contact Author)

Wayne State University Law School ( email )

471 Palmer
Detroit, MI 48202
United States
615-577-9963 (Phone)

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