What about sex trafficking?

Human trafficking is ‘the threat of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation’[82] . Trafficking does not only happen to foreign nationals: people may be trafficked within as well as across borders.

It has been claimed that sex trafficking is a mammoth problem with millions of victims worldwide, and that it is a steadily escalating problem[83]. A growing body of research suggests, however, that the picture is much more varied[84]. Many people who are labeled victims of sex trafficking – usually migrant sex workers – do not fit this model[85]. Studies from all parts of the world show that, amongst migrants who work as sex workers, there are different degrees of agency, consent and intentionality.

Sex work and migration

82. Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (2000), http://www.unodc.org/documents/treaties/UNTOC/Publications/TOC%20Convention/TOCebook-e.pdf
83. See for discussion, Agustin, L. (2007). Sex at the Margins: Migration, Labour Markets and the Rescue Industry. London: Zed Books; Doezema, J. (2010). Sex Slaves and Discourse Masters: The Construction of Trafficking. London: Zed Books.
84. Weitzer, R. (2011). Sex Trafficking and the Sex Industry: The Need for Evidence-Based Theory and Legislation. Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology, 101, 1337-1369. Investigations showed that one big UK police operation failed to find any traffickers who had forced people into prostitution, see http://www.theguardian.com/uk/2009/oct/20/government-trafficking-enquiry-fails
85. Two good studies, both focusing on China, are Liu, M. (2011). Migration, Prostitution, and Human Trafficking. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction and Ko-Lin Chin, K. & Finckenauer, F. (2012). Selling Sex Overseas. New York: New York University Press.

Sex work and migration