Trafficking and women's rights: Beyond the sex industry to 'other industries'

Journal of Global Ethics 2 (2):163 – 182 (2006)
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Abstract

In this article I put forward three lines of argument. Firstly, the current debate on trafficking in human beings focuses narrowly on exploitation in the sex industry. This has produced a stand-off between moralists and liberals which is detrimental to developing strategies to combat trafficking. Moreover, this narrow focus leads to missing out the large numbers of women who are trafficked into other industries. It also masks some of the root causes of trafficking. In this article I therefore compare the practice of trafficking for prostitution with forced labour in other industries in order to show that the sole focus on trafficking for prostitution is detrimental to the efforts to combat trafficking. This analysis is based on recent research and reports on its methodology as well as its outcomes. Secondly, I relate these findings in the article to the agenda for the women's rights debate. The women's rights literature has looked separately at the sex industry and labour migration. In the light of our research outcomes, it makes sense to have a much more intimate exchange between these areas, in order to discern the central role of root causes like globalization, patriarchy and other forms of discrimination. Thirdly, whereas a dichotomy between universalism and particularism has produced its own trenches in this field, I propose a balanced approach which addresses all forms of violence against women, including the central area of exploitation of migrant women in any sector or domestic context.

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