Abstract: This article analyzes stories and images of sex trafficking in current mainstream US public discourses, including government publications, NGO materials, news media, and popular films. Noting the similarities and differences among these discourses, the first part demonstrates that they often frame sex trafficking using a rescue narrative that reiterates traditional beliefs and values regarding gender, sexuality, and nationality, relying heavily on patriarchal and orientalist tropes. Reflecting this rescue narrative, mainstream public policies focus on criminal justice solutions to trafficking. The second part suggests alternative frameworks that empower rather than rescue trafficked people. The article argues that the dominant criminal justice approach to trafficking—the state rescuing victims and prosecuting traffickers—will not alone end the problem of sex trafficking, but that public policies must address the structural conditions that create populations vulnerable to trafficking and empower those communities to dismantle inequalities that are the root causes of trafficking.
Keywords: sex trafficking, public discourses, rescue narrative, framing, public policy, feminism
Copyright by Carrie N. Baker
Interested in Anti-Trafficking legislation and policy? You may consider making a submission to the review. I will be 🙂
CALL FOR PAPERS:
’15 Years of the UN Trafficking Protocol’
Guest Editor: Jacqueline Bhabha
Deadline for Submission: 1 June 2014
2015 will mark the 15th anniversary of the UN Protocol to Prevent, Suppress, and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children. Is this a time to celebrate progress or has the Protocol caused more problems than it has solved? The Protocol created frameworks which have impacted people’s lives: differentiating smuggling from trafficking; marking out women and children, rather than men, as priority stakeholders; defining trafficking broadly; placing organ sale within the mainstream of anti-trafficking work; and emphasizing the concept of ‘abuse of power’ in the identification of trafficking. What do the effects of these aspects of the Protocol look like on the ground, after 15 years of building anti-trafficking into government, NGO and INGO programming?
How do those who negotiated the Protocol view it now? How has…
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Lisa Kristine has taken poignant images and offer insights into the lives of 27 million currently enslaved
If there is anyone out there following this blog I apologize for my extended absence from the blogosphere and opinion pieces in general. Whether or not you missed me, I missed you, and I stand here prepared to grovel. You may have noticed it has been almost 12 months since my last substantial post. Please do not think this means I was not paying attention. “When you look into an abyss, the abyss also looks into you.” Freidrich Nietzsche
The last 12 months have been a time of turbulence in my life, taking a sabbatical from academia to care for my terminally ill mother who has since passed on ❤
I have been increasingly disheartened with the political landscape in my country (Australia), where the recently elected new government has been shifting ever toward right wing, neoliberal policies; damaging our human rights record even further than the previous 2 administrations, endangering our wildlife, civil rights and welfare systems in favor of corporate greed and right wing agenda pushing. As an Abbott led government somehow made it’s way into power, making Australia a hub of ignorance, the butt of a global scale joke played out in foreign news media, I was personally dejected. Rejected from numerous job applications in the tiny cocoon of the non-profit, development NGO, human rights and community development and social policy sectors I struggle to find the balance between financial stability (a steady income) and volunteering to pursuing my passion; where I am adamant my happiness lies.
My mother was someone who kept my family grounded and had a great impact on my personal sense of justice. She had suffered more hardships than any woman should bear, she raised myself and my 3 sisters alone as a force to be reckoned with, unfailing in her dedication to her children, she often spoke of starting a revolution. She passed away this 7th of January 2014 at the age of 55.
This terrible loss has forced me to re-evaluate my engagement with those things which matter the most to me. And so I am back, tail between my legs, with a renewed sense of determination. It is more important than ever to have a say and add your voice to movements for social justice.
Moving home to my small town on the sleepy South Coast was a difficult transition, however prioritizing last moments with my only parent is something I will never regret.
I have filled my time happily (when not acting as carer for mum) by forming a local chapter of Amnesty International organizing local events to raise awareness of human rights abuses. Meeting like minded locals and engaging the local youth by assisting in the formation of an amnesty chapter at the local high school have been some real highlights for me. Demonstrating there is hope in a life increasingly occupied with suffering, loss, rejection and escalating HECs fees for uni MA not completed. I refuse to fixate on feeling like my choices are restricted and choose to continue to pursue choices however small which aim to help others.
In my time convening for Amnesty and manning local stalls I have had many troubling conversations. Not the least of which a recent conversation where a smart, self aware individual engaged in a long debate with me about a woman’s right to be a prostitute and how said woman feels emancipated and empowered by engaging in this form of employment. Prostitution is a taxable income in Australia and I generally agree that genuine legalised sex work is preferable to oppressed (often highly religious) societies where prostitution becomes shady back door deals which involve higher rates of slavery and people smuggling as well as overwhelming levels of violence against women. That said I can not reconcile the overwhelming issues in the global definition of prostitution and trafficking with someone who is genuinely happy in this form of employment and contends to have a stable state of mind and emotional health. While choice is clearly a defining factor a woman has every right to an unencumbered sexual identity, the fact remains this is an industry which makes a profit on objectifying women and to my mind represents the patriarchal oppressive global regime.
The plight of refugees seeking asylum in Australia continues to be a deeply distressing topic. While misinformation continues to be rife, I have to believe there is a light at the end of the tunnel and that every conversation we have whether positive or negative contributes to change.
These are some topics I look forward to discussing with you all and I want to renew my commitment to posting at least once a week in the coming 12 months. Good. bad and indifferent I am here to stay.
Another well articulated and honest article from a brilliant writer and feminist advocate. “It is crucial we educate women on the link between alcohol and sexual assault.” Women are not put on this earth to police rapist’s behaviour. It’s pretty fucking simple: educate people to not rape other people.
WARNING: THIS POST DISCUSSES MALE SEXUAL VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN.
Mia Freedman’s at it again, blaming women for stuff and calling it feminism: This isn’t victim blaming. This is common sense:
Let’s say you have a daughter. Or a little sister. And let’s say there was something you could tell her that would dramatically reduce the likelihood of her being sexually assaulted during her lifetime.
Would you tell her?…
I’ll tell her that getting drunk when she goes out puts her at a greater risk of danger.
Look, I get it, I really do. Telling women that there are things they can do to prevent sexual assault seems like common sense, but it’s really not. I’m sure it’s well-intentioned advice, but it simply doesn’t stand up to logic: if women could prevent sexual assault, then we’d all prevent it and there’d be no sexual assault. It’s a no-brainer.
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The following includes commentary that may serve as a trigger for victims of sexual violence.
Please be advised.
In the wake of my post yesterday on the pervasiveness of rape culture, several people attempted to argue in the comment section that the piece was not complete without acknowledging the important idea of false rape accusations.
I attempted to explain that their argument had been intentionally excluded, as it is 1) not supported by data as a significant problem, and 2) the kind of apologism that made women fear disbelief should they come forward. The second part, I argued, was a perpetuation of rape culture, and I would not give them a platform for it. They argued. I presented data. They presented none, and tried to comment again and again.
And I decided I would no longer publish any comments which attempted to caveat rape culture with the…
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Food for thought. Why we can’t be silenced on the subject of rape culture
The following includes descriptions, photos, and video that may serve as a trigger for victims of sexual violence.
Please be advised.
Someone asked me today, “What is ‘rape culture’ anyway? I’m tired of hearing about it.”
Yeah, I hear ya. I’m tired of talking about it. But I’m going to keep talking about it because people like you keep asking that question.
Rape culture is when a group of athletes rape a young girl, and though there are dozens of witnesses, no one says, “Stop.”
Rape culture is when a group of athletes rape a young girl, and though there are dozens of witnesses, they can’t get anyone to come forward.
Rape culture is when a group of athletes rape a young girl, and adults are informed of it, but no consequences are doled out because the boys “said nothing happened.”
Rape culture is when a group…
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“The truth is that I am someone’s wife. I am also someone’s mother. I am someone’s daughter, and someone’s sister. But those are not the things that define me, or make me valuable in this world. Those are not the reasons that I should be able to live a life free from rape, sexual assault or any kind of violent crime.
I have value because I am a person. Full stop. End of argument. This isn’t even a discussion that we should be having.”
Hear hear! Wells said!
I don’t have to tell you that Steubenville is all over the news.
I don’t have to tell you that it’s a fucking joke that Trent Mays and Ma’lik Richmond, the two teenagers convicted of raping a sixteen year old girl, were only sentenced to a combined three years in juvenile prison. Each will serve a year for the rape itself; Mays will serve an additional year for “illegal use of a minor in nudity-oriented material.”
I probably don’t even have to tell you that the media treatment of this trial has been a perfect, if utterly sickening, example of rape culture, with its focus on how difficult and painful this event has been for the rapists who raped a sixteen year old girl then bragged about it on social media.
And I almost certainly don’t have to tell you that the world is full of seemingly nice, normal…
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