This multi-award winning channel produces programmes made by volunteers trained by the charity WORLDwrite

Subscribe to our podcasts using your preferred service:

Help with our podcasts

Sex trafficking: new slave trade or moral panic?

57.51

Trafficking: new slave trade or moral panic?

Human trafficking has been labelled a ‘modern-day slave trade’. Yet there is little evidence out there, is this because it’s a hidden crime? Critics say it’s a misleading label, which refers to diverse forms of migration and employment and the best way to help migrants avoid taking dangerous journeys is to open the borders. ‘Rescuers’ it’s argued compel migrants to present themselves as victims. Leading sex workers’ rights activists claim trafficking has become a powerful tool for prostitution abolitionists to win wider support for a clampdown on the sex industry as a whole. This powerful debate was filmed at the Battle of Ideas.

Recommended links:

Human trafficking has been labelled a ‘modern-day slave trade’. Yet there is little
evidence out there, is this because it’s a hidden crime? Critics say it’s a misleading
label, which refers to diverse forms of migration and employment and the best way to
help migrants avoid taking dangerous journeys is to open the borders. ‘Rescuers’ it’s
argued compel migrants to present themselves as victims. Leading sex workers’ rights
activists claim trafficking has become a powerful tool for prostitution abolitionists
to win wider support for a clampdown on the sex industry as a whole. This powerful
debate was filmed at the Battle of Ideas.

Related topics: Debates, International

Subscribe to our newsletter

Comments

Leave a comment now

mmd said:

Perhaps the bottom line of this debate is that if we didn’t restrict the movement of people by policing borders, there wouldn’t be as many global trafficking problems – they stem from desperation and lack of better options. It is in every human’s nature to want to move around to seek a better life – why should people be forced to “stay home and accept their lot”? If our ancestors had done this, how many of us would be living the lives we are now?

All humans have the right to seek a better life and opportunities in legal, just and humane ways rather than becoming “victims” of or having to subject themselves to prostitution, slavery, trafficking, etc. Perhaps the most effective way to empower them is to open borders and provide them with as many safe, legal opportunities and as much safe, legal access as possible to escape poverty.

Further, there should be a distinction made between providing aid in a neoimperialist way (“saving/rescuing unwitting victims”) that simply reinforces global hierarchies versus providing support that enables and empowers people to rise above their circumstances, become economically independent and make better choices for themselves (and ultimately be freed from any and all types of slavery).

Janice said:

Excellent debate – yes there are no doubt rare individual horror cases- but in the main this is yet more immigrant bashing. Isn’t this stark staringly obvious? I think its very telling that those who claim to be supporting trafficked ‘victims’ don’t campaign for Open Borders.

Audrey said:

Hi Moriah, what you went through was obviously a living hell, as it must have been for the Cuban woman you met. I can totally understand why the woman from Cuba chose to go back home, even if it meant living in poverty. Yet, isn’t her experience an example of why we should fight for the freedom of movement for all, which Nathalie Rothschild argued for. The fact the majority in the world cannot move around freely means many people have to take great risks to find a better life. Of-course this won’t stop exploitation once you get here but it does mean that those who don’t want to bow down to their fate and instead take control of their destiny by travelling elsewhere can. Then it should be up to us what we want to do to earn money. Yet this is not what happens, migrants who are not rich are treated as criminals and in my opinion the majority of organisations purporting to help only collude with authorities to send the majority back home. How does that help those trapped not just to get out but get on? I don’t think it does. But perhaps you are not saying this? Do you think some of the speakers denied such heinous crimes as yours exist? I didn’t hear that; I heard a case for challenging the very idea of sex trafficking and I can see why – it seems to at least shadow the real reasons people in the informal economy are missed and it treats people as victims, not as victims of a crime who should be able to insist on some justice but victims we can save. I think that is very problematic, isn’t it?

Moriah Smith said:

you must be kidding me. I was 17 when I was kidnapped, raped, beaten, and prostitued by a 40 year old man, I am an american citizen, I was an honor role student who danced in my spare time, I was avid in church and sang every chance I got….
I was trafficked
I am a survivor or Sex Trafficking….\

there was a woman who was stuck in the same hell that I was in who was cuban, with no papers and spoke little english… she was beat and trafficked the same way that I was… when my attacker was arrested she was happy as hell to go back to her small house with a dirt floor, and no money… she was offered help to get a visa and chose to go back to Cuba.
woman you have no idea the type of hell this is… and people like you are the exact freakin reason why pimping and pandering are a small charge!!!