The Politics of Sex Trafficking: A Moral Geography (Critical Criminological Perspectives)

The Politics of Sex Trafficking: A Moral Geography (Critical Criminological Perspectives)

Erin O'Brien, Sharon Hayes, Belinda Carpenter

Language: English

Pages: 237

ISBN: B01K0T62H0

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


This book offers a unique insight into the moral politics behind the making of human trafficking policy in Australia and the United States of America. As governments around the world rush to meet their international obligations to combat human trafficking, a heated debate has emerged over the rights, wrongs, and harms of prostitution, and its relationship to sex trafficking.

The Politics of Sex Trafficking identifies and challenges intrinsic notions of moral harm that have pervaded trafficking discourse and resulted in a distinctly anti-prostitution agenda in trafficking policy in recent decades. Including rare interviews with key political actors, this book charts the competing perspectives of feminist, faith-based, and sex-worker activists, and their efforts to influence policy-makers. This critical account of the creation of anti-trafficking policy challenges the sex trafficking narrative dominant in US Congressional and Australian Parliamentary hearings, and demonstrates the power of a moral politics in shaping policy.

This book will appeal to academics across the fields of criminology, criminal justice, law, human rights and gender studies, as well as policy-makers.

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a major problem. Vincent McMahon from the Department of Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs suggested to the Senate Inquiry that figures had been escalated due to the United States’ annual Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report’s declaration that Australia had more than 100 trafficking victims. Only countries with more than 100 trafficking victims are included in the United States’ TIP Report, which results in increased US scrutiny of nation states’ attempts to combat the crime of trafficking. In

the debate when Detective Senior Sergeant Ivan McKinney expressed frustration with a system that is legal, but which still treated workers in the sex industry differently to those in other industries. He argued that when criminal justice visas have been offered to trafficking victims, the Commonwealth Attorney-General has demanded that they not engage in prostitution. McKinney suggests that: We cannot tell someone what they can do in a legal industry. It is a real conflict because we are saying

that demand was a key issue. As Fergus (2005) notes, there are differing interpretations of Article 9 142 The Politics of Sex Trafficking of the UN Trafficking Protocol which declares that nations should take measures to prevent trafficking including focusing on demand. Fergus explains: There have been two major interpretations of this word [‘demand’]. The more conservative interpretation is that states should educate men who use prostitutes to distinguish between those who have been

or not legislators fully rejected the abolitionist position. While decision-makers did not accept the policy proposals put forward by abolitionist advocates, they also refused an explicit rejection of the argument that demand must be addressed in order to prevent sex trafficking. In contrast, US decision-makers gave no attention to policy proposals supportive of a sex work perspective, and enacted several policies supportive of key assumptions within the abolitionist perspective. Policy proposals

the conditions many migrant sex workers face, as well as information about the average ‘cost’ of a contract-debt. (Parliament of Australia, APJC Hearing 25 February 2004, 23–24). The involvement of sex workers in the Parliamentary Inquiry may also have been a key factor that prevented the kind of intimidation and shaming tactics used in the United States from taking hold in Australia. If sex workers are able to speak for themselves, and are not regarded just as the ‘wolves’ of brothel owners,

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