Beyond popular representations of trafficking and slavery https://www.opendemocracy.net/taxonomy/term/18441/all cached version 18/04/2018 04:07:48 en Walk Free: measuring global slavery, or masking global hypocrisy? https://www.opendemocracy.net/beyondslavery/julia-o-connell-davidson-sam-okyere/walk-free-measuring-global-slavery-or-masking-glob <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The Walk Free Foundation claims to fight ‘modern slavery’ by measuring its extent, but is its index not just an exercise in political hypocrisy?</p> </div> </div> </div> <img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/u555228/226612892_d099f29338_o_920.jpg" width="100%" /> <p class="image-caption" style="margin-top:0px;padding-top:0px;">AndyMelton/Flickr. CC (by).</p> <p>Walk Free has just released its <a href="http://www.globalslaveryindex.org/">2016 Global Slavery Index</a> (GSI), announcing that there are 45.8 million slaves in the world today. The index purports to measure the number of people affected by ‘modern slavery’ country by country, and provides a quantitative ranking of 162 countries around the world according to the estimated prevalence in each (i.e., the estimated percentage of the national population enslaved at any given time). </p> <p>As with previous rounds of the index, the countries with the highest prevalence are all in the developing world, (India, China, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Uzbekistan), while those singled out for special commendation are all in the affluent, developed world (Luxembourg, Germany, the United States, and so on).</p> <p>What exactly does the index measure? Walk Free says that ‘modern slavery’ goes by names including ‘trafficking’, ‘forced labour’, ‘forced and early marriage’, and ‘the worst forms of child labour’ (WFCL). But at base, it claims, the term refers to the condition of children, women and men who are trapped in situations of appalling abuse and exploitation from which they cannot walk away. </p> <p>At first, this may sound uncontroversial – after all, many of us think of chains or leg irons when we hear the word ‘slavery’. But Walk Free doesn’t claim that slavery only exists where people are held in shackles. Rather, it extends the concept to include people threatened with violence when attempting to leave a given situation or tied by debt to a particular employer. When it comes to children, Walk Free includes even those who are paid for their labour and who are not necessarily subject to violence or debt, but who are nonetheless counted as ‘slaves’ simply because they are under the age of 18 when they perform their hazardous work.</p> <h2>Why stop at 45.8 million?</h2> <p>We do not doubt that the freedoms and rights of those labelled by Walk Free as ‘slaves’ are restricted by poverty, violence, wage theft, debt, racism, sexism, caste discrimination, and/or other forms of oppression. Our question, rather, is if Walk Free really wants to lead a liberation struggle on behalf of these people and is willing to expand the concept of ‘slavery’ in these ways, then why stop here? </p> <p>Take ‘forced and early marriage’, which is described as a form of ‘modern slavery’ by Walk Free, and consider it against marriages that are not initiated by force and that involve women above the age of consent. We know that for millions of wives all over the world, consensual marriages also become violent and oppressive. Furthermore, because women often lack legal or financial access to divorce, and/or face stigma and penury as divorced women or single mothers, the many millions who suffer domestic violence are frequently unable to ‘walk away’ from their abusive husbands.</p> <div style="width:230px;float:right;padding-left:10px;"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/u555228/261136098_826a5e8dd8_z_460.jpg" width="230" /><br /><span class="image-caption" style="margin-top:0px;padding-top:0px;">Alex/Flickr. CC (by-nc-nd).</span></div> <p>So why don’t these wives also appear as ‘slaves’ in Walk Free’s index? Equally, we might ask, if it is the absence of consent to a lifelong relationship rather than the actual presence of violence in that relationship that makes ‘forced and early marriage’ a proxy for slavery, then why isn’t the ‘forced and early motherhood’ experienced by women and girls in countries which restrict or deny access to abortion also ‘modern slavery’? &nbsp;</p> <p>Consider too the restraints on freedom implied by many common forms of indebtedness. Most migrant workers, for example, have no choice but to initially finance their labour migration by taking on debt because the costs associated with their mobility – including securing a job or getting the right documentation – are often prohibitively high. They have to borrow from friends, family members, moneylenders, or banks. But on arrival in countries like Australia and Britain, they’re tied to the employers that ‘sponsor’ them by immigration regimes that deport them if they ‘walk away’. And they are deterred from just ‘walking away’ by the knowledge that doing so will prevent them from paying back their debts to relatives or moneylenders back home.</p> <p>Do they too not merit our concern? Why restrict the term ‘slavery’ only to those whose debt bonds them to an employer who is also a creditor? And why focus our moral contempt on the bad sponsor exploiting dependency, instead of on the immigration system which forces migrant workers into that dependency by denying them the right to move freely within the labour market?</p> <p class="mag-quote-center">Why focus our moral contempt on the bad sponsor exploiting dependency, instead of on the immigration system which forces migrant workers into that dependency by denying them the right to move freely within the labour market?</p> <p>Let’s also remember the many millions of migrants deprived of their liberty through immigration detention around the world, often <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/aug/12/uk-prisons-inspector-time-limits-detention-migrants-without-trial">without time limit</a>. In Australia, the US, and Britain, many immigration detention facilities are run for profit by private companies, <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2014/aug/22/immigrants-cheap-labour-detention-centres-g4s-serco">and the labour of detainees, who are paid less than the minimum wage</a>, helps to make the business of warehousing their bodies ever more profitable. Are they too not ‘modern slaves’? What of the <a href="http://www.bjs.gov/index.cfm?ty=pbdetail&amp;iid=5387">predominantly Black and Latino populations</a> held captive in the US prison-industrial complex, <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/beyondslavery/mark-karlin/inseparability-of-capitalism-racism-and-imprisonment-interview-with-dennis">with its strong ties back to transatlantic chattel slavery</a>? Are they slaves of the state? And if so, why don’t they feature in the GSI? </p> <p>Bringing these people back into the orbit of our concern makes a mockery of awarding Australia or the US high positions on the list of countries taking most action against ‘modern slavery’. The Australian government’s own <a href="https://www.humanrights.gov.au/immigration-detention-statistics">figures</a> show that it <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2016/apr/26/papua-new-guinea-court-rules-detention-asylum-seekers-manus-unconstitutional">forcibly and illegally detains</a> almost 1,500 people on the islands of Manus and Nauru. And unlike many of those identified by Walk Free as ‘modern slaves’, these captives do commonly <a href="https://redflag.org.au/node/5255">liken their situation to slavery</a>, and some have even begged the Australian state to kill them if it refuses to allow <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/beyondslavery/julia-oconnell-davidson/let-us-live-or-make-us-die-migrants-challenge-to-their-outlawr">them to live</a>. </p> <p>Certainly the many hundreds of thousands of migrants trapped in appalling conditions in makeshift camps at European borders or held at the Lesbos refugee holding camp <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/migrant-crisis-turkey-deportations_us_5703b98ee4b0daf53af0cc8f">are not free to simply ‘walk away’.</a> And, while we’re at it, if we want to demand an end to ‘human trafficking’ because it involves moving people against their will for the purposes of material gain, then aren’t the migrants, refugees and asylum seekers forcibly transported by the EU to Turkey, or those <a href="https://www.amnesty.org/en/documents/eur44/3022/2015/en/">rounded up, kept in shackles, and held incommunicado by the Turkish authorities</a> in exchange for payment and the promise of political favours by the EU, not also ‘victims of trafficking’?</p> <h2>An index of global hypocrisy?</h2> <p>It’s not possible to count what you cannot define, and those who produce the GSI have not managed to come up with a definition of ‘slavery’ that clearly and unambiguously allows them to distinguish between ‘slave’ and non-slave in the contemporary world. Instead, they’ve chosen to apply the label ‘slave’ in a very selective and narrow fashion, highlighting only those forms of unfreedom that they view as intolerable and ignoring many others that they either do not see, or do not find morally objectionable. This, then, is not an index of global slavery, but rather of global hypocrisy. </p> <p class="mag-quote-left">This, then, is not an index of global slavery, but rather of global hypocrisy.</p> <p>But the problems with the GSI go far beyond the fact that it is partial and selective (in specifically white, liberal, bourgeois ways). It also invites a particularly dangerous kind of policy-making. Since slavery is nowhere legally sanctioned, most governments’ first response to the news that slavery is a vast and growing problem is to address it as a criminal justice issue. The solutions they come up with are therefore typically draconian – tighter policing, tougher sentencing, harsher immigration controls, and the further militarisation of borders. Yet can such measures ever really help those at the sharp end of inequalities and systems of domination in the contemporary world? How will they help ensure that battered wives or poor workers stuck on tied visas can choose to walk away from those who exploit and abuse them? How will they bring freedom to the populations warehoused in <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/beyondslavery/dylan-rodr%C3%ADguez/present-tense-of-racial-slavery-racial-chattel-logic-of-us-prison">prisons</a> and detention centres, or held against their will in <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/beyondslavery/teodora-todorova/warehousing-palestine">occupied territories</a> or border camps?</p> <p>Likewise, it’s unclear how the poor and indebted in developing countries will be assisted by the policies that rich countries have begun to enact – in part in response to pressure from Walk Free and the GSI – <a href="https://www.congress.gov/bill/114th-congress/house-bill/644/text#toc-HF4BB0BA6977E41648581227DC17880F5">to prevent the importing of products</a> made using ‘slavery’ or ‘forced labour’. These laws certainly help to protect domestic industries from the competition they’d face from poorer countries exporting cheaper goods. But they do nothing to address the underlying global political and economic inequalities that, in different ways, shape the very phenomena grouped under the umbrella of ‘modern slavery’. </p> <p>The GSI naturalises the structural injustices that leave vast swathes of the world’s population unable to simply walk away from appalling situations of violence, abuse, and exploitation. No wonder global elites and their political representatives are so happy to endorse it.</p> <fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/anne-gallagher/global-slavery-index-seduction-and-obfuscation">The Global Slavery Index: seduction and obfuscation</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/beyondslavery/ronald-weitzer/miscounting-human-trafficking-and-slavery">Miscounting human trafficking and slavery</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/beyondslavery/joel-quirk-andr%C3%A9-broome/politics-of-numbers-global-slavery-index-and-marketplace-of-ac">The politics of numbers: the Global Slavery Index and the marketplace of activism</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/beyondslavery/julia-o%27connell-davidson/happy-endings-slavery-emancipation-and-freedom">Happy endings? Slavery, emancipation and freedom</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/beyondslavery/sally-engle-merry/how-big-is-trafficking-problem-mysteries-of-quantification">How big is the trafficking problem? The mysteries of quantification</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/beyondslavery/jillian-k-marsh/master-plan-for-indigenous-freedom">A master plan for Indigenous freedom</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/beyondslavery/siobh%C3%A1n-mcgrath-fabiola-mieres/mapping-politics-of-national-rankings-in-movement-again">Mapping the politics of national rankings in the movement against “modern slavery”</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/opensecurity/siobh%C3%A1n-mcgrath/us%27-troubling-turn-as-global-antitrafficking-sheriff">The US&#039; troubling turn as global anti-trafficking sheriff</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> BeyondSlavery BeyondSlavery Sam Okyere Julia O'Connell Davidson Beyond popular representations of trafficking and slavery Fri, 17 Jun 2016 07:00:00 +0000 Julia O'Connell Davidson and Sam Okyere 103010 at https://www.opendemocracy.net A guide to respectful reporting and writing on sex work https://www.opendemocracy.net/beyondslavery/marlise-richter-ntokozo-yingwana-lesego-tlhwale-ruvimbo-tenga/guide-to-respectful-repo <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Journalists and researchers writing about sex workers do long-lasting damage to their sources when they treat sex work as an area of exception to their journalistic ethics.&nbsp;</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/555228/unnamed.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/555228/unnamed.png" alt="" title="" width="460" height="157" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p><p>The South African press—like its international counterparts—are often guilty of misrepresenting sex workers and sex work.&nbsp; The majority of articles on sex work are sensationalistic in nature and emphasise salaciousness and lewdness over the more mundane aspects of sex work.&nbsp; Few journalists or writers go to the trouble of interviewing sex workers or asking for their input into articles or investigations, while generally privileging the voices of authorities, residents or the general public. Embarking on the often difficult task of locating sex workers, gaining their trust and interviewing them in a respectful manner do not characterise most popular writing on sex work.</p><p>The writers of this article work for Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) in South Africa that advocate for sex worker rights, and specifically the decriminalisation of sex work.&nbsp; In our work, we have come across dangerous journalistic practices and unethical behaviour by journalists, writers, editors and researchers. We are part of a consortium of organisations that compiled a resource for journalists and writers entitled <em>Sex Workers and Sex Work in South Africa – A Guide for Journalists and Writers</em>. This article summarises some of the main issues that this guide contains. We furthermore illustrate some of the pitfalls of popular reporting on sex work with a case study of a tabloid newspaper article in South Africa:</p><h2>Case Study: <em>Everyday News</em> on sex work and HIV</h2><p><em><strong>Authors’ note: </strong>The names of the tabloid and sex worker have been changed to avoid possible re-victimisation of the complainants.</em></p><p>In May 2014, three <em>Everyday News </em>journalists approached Angel, a sex worker in the informal settlement of Blikkiesdorp in Western Cape, South Africa, for interviews. Angel agreed to do the interviews on condition that her photograph would not be published and that a pseudonym would be used.&nbsp; Her family did not know that she is a sex worker and that she is HIV positive. Angel also told the journalists that she did not want details of her gang rape revealed. </p><p class="pullquote-right"><span><strong>Download the full guide</strong><br /></span><br /><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/555228/guide-cover.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/555228/guide-cover.jpg" alt="" title="" width="180" height="255" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span><a href="http://www.genderjustice.org.za/publication/sex-workers-sex-work-south-africa/" target="_self">Complete PDF 4.7 mb</a><br /><br /><span>A joint production of <a href="http://www.genderjustice.org.za/">Sonke Gender Justice</a>, Sisonke Sex Worker Movement, <a href="http://www.sweat.org.za/">Sex Worker Education and Advocacy Taskforce</a>, and <a href="http://www.wlce.co.za/">Women’s Legal Centre</a>, December 2014.</span></p><p>On 17&nbsp;June&nbsp;2014, the <em>Everyday News</em> published a two-page article titled, ‘AIDS in Blikkiesdorp’, with a sub-heading ‘Prostitutes living with HIV is on the rise’.&nbsp; The article included a photo of Angel standing in the road, taken from the back, but not blurred as had been agreed before the interview. Angel could therefore be identified by community members, and thus linked to being a sex worker and having HIV.&nbsp; The article also included the fact that Angel had been raped.</p><p>Angel approached the <a href="http://www.sweat.org.za/">Sex Worker Education and Advocacy Taskforce (SWEAT)</a> and the <a href="http://www.wlce.co.za/">Women’s Legal Centre (WLC)</a> for assistance.&nbsp; These organisations filed a complaint with the Press Ombudsman outlining the breached verbal contract, and the social implications of the newspaper’s actions.&nbsp;</p><p>The South African Press Code states that the identity of rape victims shall not be disclosed without their consent, and neither shall a person’s HIV status. Since the publication of the article, Angel has been afraid to leave her home because of threats of violence from community members. This has put her health at risk, as she no longer collects her antiretroviral medications from the local clinic.</p><p>The Code is clear that “headlines and captions to pictures shall give a reasonable reflection of the contents of the report or picture in question”. The content of the article provided no evidence that sex workers with HIV were increasing, as the subheading suggested.&nbsp; The press also has an obligation to protect sources and not to publish information that would constitute a breach of confidence, which was clearly violated in this case.</p><p>The Press Ombudsman agreed with the WLC’s analysis on this case, and instructed the <em>Everyday News</em> newspaper to publish an apology. On the 21&nbsp;August the <em>Everyday News</em> published the following:</p> <blockquote> <p>“On [the] June 17, the <em>Everyday News</em> published an article titled, ‘Sex and Aids in Blikkiesdorp’. The article included information, which indirectly made it possible to identify the complainants mentioned in the article. Furthermore, the co-operation of the complainants was contingent on their anonymity. Due to the abovementioned, the <em>Everyday News</em> would like to apologise to the individuals mentioned in the article and to the community of Blikkiesdorp in respect of the harm the article may have caused the complainants. The <em>Everyday News</em> takes this opportunity to assert its view that HIV/AIDS remains a very sensitive issue in the community and respect should be maintained for vulnerable persons such as women and children when reporting on this issue.”</p> </blockquote><p>Regrettably, this apology does not undo the damage to Angel’s dignity and well-being. The publication of her identity alongside sensitive information about her health will likely have long-term, negative consequences for Angel and her reputation. Such a result could have been avoided if the <em>Everyday News</em> journalists had adhered to the conditions agreed upon before the interviews.</p><p>Trust between sex workers and journalists is vital for ensuring respectful and fair reporting. This example of professional misconduct shows the opposite: how poor journalistic practice increases sex worker distrust and reluctance to engage with journalists.</p><h2>Cliché visuals perpetuate stereotypes</h2><p>When one conducts an internet image search with the keywords ‘sex worker’ or ‘prostitute’, the majority of images relate to selected body parts of women only—usually a woman’s exposed breasts, bums or legs—such as the images below. These images reduce sex workers to certain body parts only. They fail to portray the multiplicity and complexity of sex worker lives and reinforce negative stereotypes that sex workers are money-hungry alcoholics and drug addicts.&nbsp; Responsible journalists would avoid the reproduction of such images as they encourage intolerance towards sex workers and stereotype them.</p><p><strong>Examples of disrespectful or de-contextualised images of sex workers</strong></p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/555228/mashup1.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/555228/mashup1.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="140" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Telegraph.co.uk (left); Mpumalanganews.co.za (right). Fair Use.</span></span></span></p><p><strong>Protecting sex worker identities</strong></p><p>Particularly in a context where sex work is criminalised, sex workers are often reluctant to have their faces photographed or filmed as it may expose them to a range of risks. There are a number of well-established journalist techniques that could disguise the identity of sex workers, such as blurring their faces or distorting their voices if they are being filmed.&nbsp; These options should be discussed with the interviewee to establish what s/he would prefer.&nbsp; Proper consent should then be obtained, preferably in the form of a written agreement, with signed copies to both the interviewer and the interviewee.</p><p><strong>Examples of successful disguising of sex worker identities</strong></p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/555228/mashup2_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/555228/mashup2_0.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="135" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Special Assignment producer Amos Phago interviewing sex workers for the episode, ‘Surviving the streets’, aired February 2013.</span></span></span></p><h2>Conclusion</h2><p>Much of the harm in sensationalist and impertinent reporting on sex work would be avoided if journalists challenged their own preconceived ideas about sex workers as undeserving of their humanity and dignity. Guiding principles common to journalistic ethics—accuracy, objectivity, freedom from bias, integrity, and respect—apply to writing on sex work.&nbsp; In fact, in light of their marginalised position in society, sex workers deserve journalists’, writers’ and editors’ utmost consideration for their safety, well-being and reputation.</p> BeyondSlavery BeyondSlavery Ntokozo Yingwana Ruvimbo Tenga Lesego Tlhwale Marlise Richter Beyond popular representations of trafficking and slavery Fri, 30 Jan 2015 05:00:00 +0000 Marlise Richter, Ntokozo Yingwana, Lesego Tlhwale and Ruvimbo Tenga 90094 at https://www.opendemocracy.net The rhetoric and reality of ‘ending slavery in our lifetime’ https://www.opendemocracy.net/beyondslavery/joel-quirk/rhetoric-and-reality-of-%E2%80%98ending-slavery-in-our-lifetime%E2%80%99 <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>‘Modern-day abolitionists’ frame their activities as part of a shared global struggle, but there is no single anti-slavery or anti-trafficking movement.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/555228/NFS Scarf Fist.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/555228/NFS Scarf Fist.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="218" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Notforsale.com. All Rights Reserved.</span></span></span></p><p>Recent efforts to combat ‘human trafficking’ and ‘modern-day slavery’ have frequently been characterized as a cause associated with <a href="http://jp.notforsalecampaign.org/action/modern-day-abolitionist/">‘modern-day abolitionists’</a>, who regard themselves as the successors of historical anti-slavery activists in the United States and United Kingdom. According to these self-proclaimed abolitionists, such as David Batstone and Not For Sale, their primary goal is to <a href="http://twitchange.com/not-for-sale-nfs-the-movement-to-re-abolish-slavery/">‘end slavery in our lifetime'.</a> While this is undoubtedly a compelling slogan, we need to look beneath the rhetoric and ask what this actually looks like in reality. </p> <p>For historical anti-slavery activists, the cause of ending slavery involved targeting a clearly defined population whose status as slaves was heavily reliant on the government for sanction and support. For ‘modern-day abolitionists’, the cause of ‘ending slavery’ now extends to a tremendous variety of practices and problems. These include wartime captivity in Nigeria, bonded labour in Pakistan, abuses on fishing boats in Thailand, ‘slave chocolate’ in Cote D'Ivoire, forced labour in cotton production in Uzbekistan, and the abuse of migrant domestic workers in the United Kingdom. ‘Modern-day abolitionists’ regard these diverse problems as different aspects of a cohesive and singular global cause: combating trafficking and modern slavery. Should these very different problems and practices be lumped together in this way?</p> <p>To help answer this question, we need to reflect upon the many different issues which been loosely aggregated under the global banner of ending slavery and trafficking over the last two decades. While no list can ever be definitive, the goal of ‘ending slavery in our lifetime’ is most commonly understood in terms that require action in relation to the following:</p> <p>• Sex work and exploitation<br />• Migration and exploitation<br />• Bonded labour and exploitation<br />• Child labour and exploitation<br />• Domestic labour and exploitation<br />• Global supply chains and exploitation<br />• Hereditary&nbsp;bondage and descent-based&nbsp;discrimination<br />• Wartime captivity and wartime abuses<br />• Forced and early marriage<br />• Forced labour for the state</p> <p>In addition, it is important to briefly mention the following related themes, despite the fact that they haven’t really featured prominently in anti-slavery and anti-trafficking circles:</p> <p>• Prison labour and patterns of incarceration<br />• Repairing the history and legacies of historical slave systems</p> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/555228/NFS Group hands.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/555228/NFS Group hands.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="122" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Notforsale.com. Fair Use.</span></span></span></p> <p>This is a long and diverse list. There are a number of points of overlap and intersection between different themes, as well as in relation to much larger social challenges such as sexism and&nbsp;patriarchy. Things quickly get even more complicated, however, since combating trafficking and slavery is commonly understood to involve a specific subcategory of ‘slaves’ found amongst much larger populations. Not everyone who works within a global supply chain can be classified as enslaved, trafficked or subject to forced labour. Much the same logic applies to migrants, sex workers, prisoners, domestics, and other populations. Throwing together all of these different themes is a&nbsp;recipe&nbsp;for confusion, rather than clarity.</p> <p>Accordingly, ‘ending slavery’ not only requires us to firmly distinguish between ‘slave’ and ‘non-slave’ across many different practices and population groups, but also to formulate interventions that specifically target this small subcategory of affected persons. This overall picture is in turn further complicated by the ways in which people move in and out of different types of situations, so there will always be new cases. </p> <p>It is at this juncture that political rhetoric inevitably gives away to political reality. ‘Modern-day abolitionists’ can’t possibly take simultaneous action to combat abuses against an amorphous subcategory of ‘slaves’ across all of these different practices and population groups. When push comes to shove, activists and institutions only rarely concern themselves with the overall whole, but instead direct their energies in relation to specific issues and locations.</p> <p>While the popular rhetoric of shared global struggle is undoubtedly appealing, the reality is that it ultimately doesn’t mean very much in practice. Ending slavery is not a single cause, but instead involves many different causes that have been uncomfortably lumped together. There is frequently relatively little to <em>directly</em> connect interventions in one part of the globe to parallel interventions taking place in other parts of the world.</p> <p>Brazilian activists seeking to end extreme exploitation in the agricultural sector have little to do with their counterparts seeking to combat the legacies of historical slave systems in Mali or Niger. Much the same can be said about activists concerned with state-sponsored forced labour in North Korea relative to bonded labour in Pakistan. Activists in the United States concerned with ‘domestic minor sex trafficking’ rarely look beyond their own borders, or even beyond sex work, when it comes to making substantive political and policy interventions. There are sometimes broad <em>similarities</em> in the types of practices that occur in these otherwise very different contexts, but a great deal of a creative aggregation and extrapolation is required in order to translate these generalities into the language of a common and cohesive global cause.</p> <p>Modern-day abolitionists often attempt to solve this problem by weaving together rhetorical appeals that superficially link numerous contexts and constituencies together. This sometimes means re-badging individuals concerned with specific themes, such as migration or child rights, as ‘anti-slavery activists’ to invent new ‘modern-day abolitionists’. While there may well be overlaps between causes, this rhetorical co-optation nonetheless has the effect of smoothing over differences in agenda, philosophy and approach. In other cases, activists concerned with one theme—such as sex work and exploitation—attempt to recast their activities as contributing to the larger cause of ending slavery and trafficking, often by simply adding the buzzword ‘labour trafficking’ into their rhetorical vocabularies.</p> <p>Over the last year, anti-trafficking activists have made a series of appeals for action in Nigeria, Syria and Iraq, and thereby established rhetorical linkages between wartime captivity and sex work and exploitation. In the vast majority cases, activists and organizations making these rhetorical appeals have not followed up with any substantive inventions. Activists and institutions may well be rhetorically committed to combating a huge number of problems, but this rhetoric conceals a political and spatial landscape where substantive inventions remain concentrated upon specific themes and locations.</p> <p>Several conclusions follow from this overall line of argument. Firstly, and most obviously, it is essential not to confuse political rhetoric with political realities. However much people proclaim otherwise, there is not one global anti-trafficking or anti-slavery movement. There are instead many different movements and institutions with different agendas and interests. It should also be apparent, moreover, that these political agendas don’t always point in the same direction.</p> <p>Instead of lumping together diverse issues, we instead need to disaggregate the numerous causes and agendas that now uneasily co-exist under the banner of ‘ending slavery’. This means focusing upon more specific themes, and engaging in more narrowly focused political debates to address specific problems, such as the vulnerabilities associated with migration. Each of the themes identified above can be usefully understood as autonomous spheres of activism and analysis, rather than as subcategories within the increasingly incoherent and overloaded rhetoric of ‘ending slavery’. There is undoubtedly overlap between some of these themes, but these points of intersection should be substantive and not simply rhetorical.</p> <p>Finally, we also need to reflect upon whether or not the categories of ‘slavery’ and ‘human trafficking’ ultimately offer the most effective starting point for approaching these diverse themes. As we have seen, ‘ending slavery’ frequently means attempting to target specific subcategories of ‘exceptional’ cases that are found amongst much larger population groups. Targeting these exceptional cases is not only very difficult in practical terms, it also tends to create an informal separation between ‘deserving’ and ‘undeserving’ cases.</p><p>Instead of concentrating our energies upon a small subcategory within a larger population, perhaps it would be better to make the <em>entire</em> population the chief object of activism and analysis. While different themes require case-specific responses, this broadly means working to improve the rights and protections afforded to <em>all</em> migrants, sex workers, prisoners, domestics, supply chain workers, and other vulnerable populations. Instead of privileging individual cases, we need to be thinking in terms of collective transformation. </p> BeyondSlavery BeyondSlavery Joel Quirk Beyond popular representations of trafficking and slavery Fri, 30 Jan 2015 05:00:00 +0000 Joel Quirk 90023 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Feminism’s undeservedly bad reputation in anti-trafficking discourse https://www.opendemocracy.net/beyondslavery/ingrid-palmary/feminism%E2%80%99s-undeservedly-bad-reputation-in-antitrafficking-discourse <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The strain of feminist thinking that promotes the rescue industry and the criminalisation of sex work springs from a small but vocal community of activists. Treating it as the voice of feminism silences competing voices, especially those outside of America and Europe.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/555228/4493947074_8e9fa1a1b7_z.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/555228/4493947074_8e9fa1a1b7_z.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>A Campaign Designed to Drop Sales/Flickr. Creative Commons.</span></span></span></p><p>Trafficking has been a central preoccupation in South African public discourse since 2006, when the US State Department first included it as a ‘problem’ country in its annual <em>Trafficking in Persons (TIPs)</em> report. This indicates that South Africa was either taking insufficient action against trafficking or that trafficking problem there was particularly severe. Fierce debate broke out about the source and accuracy of the figures following the report’s release, but nevertheless it gave rise to a significant counter-trafficking programme and the development of what has since become the Trafficking Act. The Trafficking Act set a record for the fastest piece of legislation ever to make its way through parliament, a remarkable feat given the extent of legislative change in South Africa since the end of apartheid. It however stalled, in part because of the debates I outline below, and was only passed into law in 2013.</p> <p>Much of the debate centred on sex work, in part because the 2000 Palermo convention against transational organised crime (see Prabha Kotiswaran) emphasises sexual exploitation of women and girls, and in part because sex work and traffficking are frequently conflated in South Africa. Much work has been done trying to untangle these two, mostly by sex worker rights groups, but in the meantime a polarised debate has broken out between two camps of activists. One side, driven by local sex worker organisations and representatives, espouses a human rights perspective that is critical of counter-traffickig interventions and pro-decriminalisation of sex work. The other camp, spear-headed by US and occasionally European activists, has been labelled the ‘feminist’ perspective. It supports the rescue industry, the counter-trafficking campaigns associated with it, and the criminalisation of sex work. </p> <p>Those campaigning under the banner of human rights have levelled a withering critique against the ‘feminist’ perspective, suggesting it is just another colonial project to rescue naïve Africans. In doing so they elide a number of very important nuances that I highlight in this article. One is that there is no one ‘feminist’ perspective. The very vocal position described above comes from a minority of activists in America and Europe, and in no way represents the positions of many other feminists either there or in South Africa itself. This critique furthermore fails to account for support within South Africa for the rescue industry with anything more than blithe dismissal. Finally, it attempts to globalise a set of ideals with little concern for local circumstances. </p> <p>There is great diversity in feminist approaches to trafficking and exploitation. The position held up as ‘feminist’ is a minority position that ignores the debates within postcolonial feminism and indeed African feminism. Since Gayatri Spivak first caricatured western feminism as “white men are saving brown women from brown men,” the postcolonial feminist movement has responded to the representation of Africans as lacking agency and in need of saving from themselves. We should not allow a minority of activists to claim sole representation of the feminist position(s). This is crucial as their perspective reinforces the perception that feminism is somehow unAfrican, a very colonial idea given that it imagines African women to be so saturated in their oppression as to be unable to critique the forms of patriarchy that shape their lives. This minority perspective also silences the continent’s very active feminist movement that has very bravely challenged the growing repression of non-conforming sexualities in Africa today. In this way further power is given to the kinds of western feminism that have been unable to recognise or respect the diversity of feminist voices. </p> <p>The claim that counter trafficking interventions are solely western feminist impositions also needs more thought, as it ignores the remarkable enthusiasm that South African organisations have shown for the trafficking interventions and the rescue industry. Indeed, entire organisations have sprung up in response to this discourse. Thus, notwithstanding the influence of US <em>TIPs</em> reports on South Africa and the similarities of the counter-trafficking industry to colonising projects, it is wrong to write off local groups as simply puppets of a western campaign. Rather, we need to engage with how global ideas about trafficking gain currency locally and with what consequences.</p> <p>Post-apartheid South Africa is caught in the grip of a “moral regeneration” campaign, driven by multiple crises including the spread of HIV, the perception that families have been destroyed, growing youth unemployment and crime, and a strong Christian fundamentalism. These conditions make a ripe environment for counter trafficking campaigns, and they need to be understood and explained rather than cast off as ignorant Africans who obey the western master. </p> <p>This leads me to my third point, which is that one of the consequences of a global campaign against trafficking is that it erases the nuances of context. Campaigners who insist on universal understandings of trafficking disregard local dynamics as well as local forms of exploitation when they force both victims and perpetrators into existing categories and definitions. This is dangerous, as it inexorably leads to the invisibility of some and the incorrect labelling of others. For example, when debating the Palermo convention with magistrates in South Africa, a long debate was held about whether a mother who sends her child across a border to beg on the streets is trafficking her child. Such a scenario does not fit easily into any universal definition of trafficking, and thus calls them all into question. &nbsp;However, in the polarised fight between human rights and feminism, the same universal traps have been reproduced in which local debates are erased and the loudest global voices are presented as the only positions.</p><p>So in spite of feminism being presented as part of the reason why the counter trafficking campaigns have been so problematic, I am arguing that in fact what we need is a feminist analysis of trafficking. However, such analysis needs to spring from the branches of feminist thinking that refuse universal claims and allow space for individual rights. </p><p>&nbsp;</p> BeyondSlavery BeyondSlavery Ingrid Palmary Beyond popular representations of trafficking and slavery Thu, 29 Jan 2015 05:00:00 +0000 Ingrid Palmary 90053 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Rescuing the market? Comparing Agustin’s ‘Sex at the margins’ and Bales’ ‘Understanding global slavery’ https://www.opendemocracy.net/beyondslavery/bridget-anderson/rescuing-market-comparing-agustin%E2%80%99s-%E2%80%98sex-at-margins%E2%80%99-and-bales%E2%80%99-%E2%80%98unde <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>‘Sex at the margins’ and ‘Understanding global slavery’ are, on the surface, markedly different treatments of modern trafficking. However, their common undercurrent is their defence of the market and neoliberal agendas.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/555228/anderson-covermashup.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/555228/anderson-covermashup.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Amazon.com. Fair Use.</span></span></span></p><p>The past decade has seen concerns about the exploitation of migrant labour increasingly discussed in terms of ‘trafficking’ and ‘forced labour.’ This is particularly true of public discourse and policy documents, and arguably this has been strongly influenced by the International Labour Organisation’s <a href="http://www.ilo.org/global/publications/ilo-bookstore/order-online/books/WCMS_081882/lang--en/index.htm">2005 report on forced labour</a>. &nbsp;While some welcome this interest in trafficking as offering possibilities for public sympathy and common ground with government, others like <a href="http://pi.library.yorku.ca/ojs/index.php/refuge/article/view/21302">Nandita Sharma</a> are more sceptical, pointing to the dangers of annihilation of migrant agency in the rush to ‘help’ vulnerable victims.</p> <p>Laura Maria Agustin’s <a href="http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/1842778609/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1634&amp;creative=19450&amp;creativeASIN=1842778609&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=opendemocra0e-21"><em>Sex at the Margins</em></a>, and Kevin Bales’ <a href="http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/0520245075/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1634&amp;creative=19450&amp;creativeASIN=0520245075&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=opendemocra0e-21"><em>Understanding Global Slavery</em></a> ostensibly come from opposing positions on this question. <em>Sex at the Margins</em> is highly critical of anti-trafficking. It aims to bring the voices of migrants to the fore and to rectify the silence on migration studies around the issues of sex work. Agustin examines the intersection of migrants and those people seeking to protect and support them. The book asserts that, particularly in the case of sex and care workers, these ‘helpers’ have singularly failed to make any difference in the lives of the people about whom they purportedly care. Drawing on fieldwork conducted in Spain, she argues that ‘social helpers’ in fact perpetuate victimising identities of those they ‘help’, in this case the trafficked victim. <em>Sex at the Margins</em> emphasises the importance of recognising the agency of migrant sex workers, and of respecting their decisions and their understandings of their choices. </p> <p>In contrast, <em>Understanding Global Slavery</em> is clearly written by a person committed to ‘helping’. The collection as a whole takes the position that rescuing slaves is a moral obligation. Ending slavery is eminently feasible, according to Bales, and will bring with it multiple economic and social benefits. Slaves are denied ‘free will’ and therefore require the assistance of rescuers. In the worst-case scenarios, these are ‘redeemers’, or people who buy ‘slaves’ in order to set them free. There is a lack of reflexivity, of consideration of the power-laden relation between victim and rescuer. While this gives a moral assuredness and clarity to the volume, it oversimplifies and at times topples over into moralising.</p> <p>At first glance then it seems as if <em>Sex at the Margins</em> and <em>Understanding Global Slavery</em> are coming from opposing viewpoints. The former affirms agency and gives voice to migrants, while challenging the motivations and the responses of ‘helpers’. The second is concerned with rescuing slaves and with the moral obligation to help. Yet there is a strange similarity between the two. They are both, at the end of the day, concerned with rescuing the market.</p> <p>Bales is quite explicit when he says, “it doesn’t take a revolution to set slaves free,” pricing the cost of freeing all 27 million slaves in the world at $945 million. Markets can function morally and it is possible to be moral agents in capitalist markets, he assures us, but we must stamp out those evil employers who are more concerned with profits than people. Indeed, he suggests we see ‘freeing the slaves’ as more an investment than a bargain, as ex-slaves will contribute to economies by becoming consumers.</p> <p>Agustin has little time for such moralising arguments, but the market remains triumphant. People are actors in a crude, rational choice driven world. Helpers deceive themselves, but migrants and sex workers know they inhabit a Hobbesian state of nature where every women, man and child fends for themselves. “Everyone becomes an opportunist… everyone looks for chinks to exploit for their personal benefit,” she says. Those who think otherwise are not even idealistic romantics. They simply refuse to acknowledge their own self-interest. Agustin paints a bleak world, in which everyone finds ways to do the best they can for themselves in the end.</p> <p>For Agustin and Bales, states are largely let off the hook. They may have a stated commitment to end slavery, but they either find this difficult to implement (Bales), or they fail to incorporate certain individuals into their polity – and the individuals may not want to be incorporated anyway (Agustin). Thus despite the surface differences of these two books, the politics of rescue and the celebration of agency both lead to a focus on individuals that, far from being marginal or challenging, sit well within neoliberal agendas.</p> <blockquote> <p>A longer version of this review article appeared in <em>Global Networks</em> (2008) 8(3).</p> </blockquote> <p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p> BeyondSlavery BeyondSlavery Bridget Anderson Beyond popular representations of trafficking and slavery Wed, 28 Jan 2015 09:23:38 +0000 Bridget Anderson 90017 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Shilling fantasy as reality: a review of ‘Trade’ and ‘Holly’ https://www.opendemocracy.net/beyondslavery/kerwin-kaye/shilling-fantasy-as-reality-review-of-%E2%80%98trade%E2%80%99-and-%E2%80%98holly%E2%80%99 <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Movies glorifying the ‘rescue’ of sex workers by men posing as clients are erotic fantasies, not daringly realistic representations of modern sex-trafficking.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p>The tragic political trajectory of the old feminist anti-pornography movement (now largely converted into a campaign to fight trafficking) has reached a new low. At the premieres of the 2008 movies <em>Trade</em> and <em>Holly</em>—respectively sponsored by NOW-NYC (the New York City branch of the National Organization for Women) and CATW-International (Coalition Against Trafficking in Women)—I watched in amazement as both groups endorsed appallingly sexist portrayals of damsels in distress and of gallant men riding to the rescue, all in the name of feminism. Worse yet, in neither case were the organisers concerned that their chivalrous knights appeared disturbingly fixated upon the teenage women whom the camera and script sexualized again and again. </p> <h2>Trade</h2> <p><em>Trade</em>, starring Kevin Kline in a lack-luster performance, is a film about a hard-nosed cop with a heart of gold who saves a group of enslaved girls. The fantastical premise of this movie begins when a sweet 13-year-old virgin (and yes, it is important that she be a virgin) is literally chased down and kidnapped while riding her bicycle through the streets of a poor neighbourhood in Mexico. While the movie is supposed to be based upon Peter Landesman’s much criticized <em>New York Times Magazine&nbsp;</em><a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2004/01/25/magazine/25SEXTRAFFIC.html">article</a> about ‘sex slaves’ (which itself featured a suggestive cover photo of a purportedly underage victim), even Landesman’s creative reporting techniques failed to dig up any such incident. The kidnapping-sex trafficking story is little more than the addition of organized crime to the old “The man in the bushes is gonna getcha” myth. The truly creative element is passing this classic B-movie hokum off as ‘feminism.’ </p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-medium'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/555228/Trade_7212_15.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_medium/wysiwyg_imageupload/555228/Trade_7212_15.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-medium imagecache imagecache-article_medium" style="" width="240" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Fair Use.</span></span></span></p> <p>In perhaps the most original departure from Landesman’s text, the movie’s gay director, Marco Kreuzpaintner, personally insisted on including a scene in which a <em>boy</em> is also presented as a victim of sex trafficking (most writers seem to find male rape too unsettling to include). However, the sexual demands of the straight audience seemingly prevented him from giving too much screen time to <em>this</em> victim. Instead the movie goes through several scenes in which the sexual horror that <em>girls and women</em> experience as a result of sex trafficking is explicitly revealed. In one unlikely scene, the victim’s older brother catches up to his sister just at the very moment that she is forced to pose provocatively for a photo session. (Do not brothers sometimes sneak peeks at their sisters? He does watch the scene from the bushes!)</p> <p>Wouldn’t you know it, the only way for our heroes to rescue the young damsel in distress is for them to pose as sex clients who wish to have sex with her (Relax. I’m sure it has nothing to do with unconscious fantasy, despite the fact that the police know the address of the brothel and—in real life—would raid the place in a second). In the movie, however, the good guys get to participate in an online sex auction, and…. they successfully buy the virgin! </p> <p>Scenes in which real-life ‘rescuers’ pose as clients as they conduct their ‘investigations’ are all too common. It is a standard practice of the Christian group International Justice Mission, and <em>New York Times</em> editorialist Nicholas Kristof has written numerous times about two Cambodian women whom he ‘purchased’ before freeing. The possibility that posing as a client—or that ‘buying’ two young women—hides something more than a benevolent desire to help is simply never broached (have none of these people even <em>heard</em> of Freud?!). And in real life, the fact that many ‘victims’ fail to share in the erotic fantasy life of their rescuers is revealed by the fact that many run away from the rehabilitation facilities where they are taken in order to return to work in the brothels. </p> <p>But back to our movie. Having successfully purchased this virgin 13-year-old through the online auction, the Kline character shows up at the brothel where he is told at gunpoint that—get this—he must have sex with the girl directly in front of the traffickers, <em>or else</em>! He doesn’t want to, but now…well, <em>he has no choice</em>! The script writer Those evil traffickers are <em>forcing</em> him! Fortunately, our clever hero figures out a way out of this, but not before the helpless heroine ‘mistakenly’ expects him to rape her. Our hero is so tragically misunderstood! </p> <h2>Holly</h2> <p><em>Holly</em> is a far better movie than <em>Trade</em>, but it is even more laden with sexual innuendo. It’s actually quite a good movie if you are looking to see just how creepy the “rescuers” can be. Unfortunately it was not taken this way by CATW, which used the movie as a simple fund raiser, nor by the US State Department’s top anti-trafficking official, Mark Logan, who spoke after the film along with the co-producer and co-screenwriter Guy Jacobson. </p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-medium'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/555228/Holly-Film.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_medium/wysiwyg_imageupload/555228/Holly-Film.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-medium imagecache imagecache-article_medium" style="" width="240" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Fair Use.</span></span></span></p> <p>Jacobson explained that the movie was based on his experiences in Cambodia, where he ‘happened to stumble upon’ a group of young children (5 to 7-year-olds) who offered to sell him sex and blow jobs. Where one has to be in order to just ‘happen’ across such a scene, I do not know. But I am pretty sure it is not listed in either the <em>Michelin Guide</em> or <em>Lonely Planet</em>. (The film itself invokes a guilty conscience about this matter. When the hero, played by Ron Livingston, tells off a ‘genuine’ client, saying “I don’t sleep with little girls, you sick fuck,” the man replies, “I beg your pardon. What are you doing here then?”)</p> <p>Subsequent to his disturbing experience of being solicited by truly young children, Jacobson did what any normal person would have done:&nbsp; he spent a great deal of time investigating the matter in as close-up and intimate a manner as possible. According to <a href="http://www.jewishjournal.com/arts/article/sad_encounter_prompts_sex_trafficking_docudrama_20071123">a review</a> in the <em>JewishJournal</em>:</p> <blockquote> <p>Jacobson drew on his experience in Israeli intelligence during the Lebanon War to research "how a 12-year-old prostitute really feels" in Phnom Penh. While posing as a pedophile client, he chatted with the girls, their pimps and clients in cafes and "bought" a time upstairs with various girls in order to photograph their rooms, which were tiny, dirty, and decorated with magazine cutouts of puppies and kittens (he would ask them to take a shower so he could snap pictures and tell them he wasn't in the mood when they returned.)</p> </blockquote> <p><em>This</em> is the man the CATW wishes to hold up as a role model? <em>This</em> is the man the US State Department endorses? Are there any male anti-trafficking crusaders who do <em>not</em> find it necessary to pose as clients?</p> <p><em>Holly</em> features yet another virgin, this one a 12-year-old (you’d be surprised at how many virgins wind up in the sex biz). This one lives in a brothel, but has not yet been forced to sell sex. Will our hero be able to save this sweet pre-teen before her virginity is sold on the open market? Sadly, no. But along the way he spends a lot of quality time with the still untouched virgin, somehow befriending this 12-year-old Cambodian girl who speaks little English and initially rejects him. Despite this, she somehow ends up in his arms again and again (was this part based on real life too? No? Just an imaginative plot device? Hmm…).</p> <p>Livingston’s character eventually catches up to the no-longer-virginal girl, paying for the girl’s time though she seems to no longer even recognize him. To the hero’s horror (<em>no doubt!</em>) she treats him like any other client and offers to have sex with him. Livingston’s character attempts to win back her friendship, and in a scene that might well have been directly inspired by Nabokov’s <em>Lolita</em>, he takes the 12-year-old shopping for clothes. These efforts eventually pay off, and the rescuer finally has a ‘breakthrough’ moment with the girl. Yelling at her that he only wants to help, he pulls her into the shower with him in order to wash off her make-up, enabling her to break down and cry despite her initial feeble attempts at resistance (<em>Paging Dr. Freud, there’s a shower scene in Theater 2</em>).</p> <p>But the offers for sex are not yet over. The still ‘whorish’ girl victim soon declares her love for the hero, and suggests marrying him, saying “I want you buy me” and “Go America. I wife you” (Good thing Jacobson did all that research in order to make the movie more realistic!). Livingston’s character of course rejects these suggestions, but it’s truly amazing just how many opportunities for sex with young girls the rescue business offers a guy! The <em>JewishJournal</em> adds (apparently without irony) that “The filmmakers included neither sex nor nudity in order to avoid exploiting the subject matter.” <em>Phew!&nbsp;</em>No nudity = no exploitation. Glad we got <em>that</em> cleared up!</p> <p>There are still more suggestive scenes in <em>Holly</em>, to such an extent that at least some reviewers, such as <a href="http://seattletimes.com/html/movies/2004043070_holly30.html">Jeff Shannon of the <em>Seattle Times</em></a>, note that the movie “discreetly hints” that the hero’s attraction to Holly is “not entirely platonic.” Nevertheless, these clues seemed entirely lost upon the crowds with whom I saw the movies—at least the point was never brought up in the post-film discussion—and other reviewers offer such oblivious praise as “‘Holly’ is about what happens when you’re too personally touched to leave it at that” (<a href="http://articles.latimes.com/2007/nov/23/entertainment/et-capsules23"><em>LA Times</em></a>).</p> <h2>The constitutive power of rescue fantasy</h2> <p>It seems even those who recognise the not-so-hidden desires of the protagonists fail to see how this same illicit desire structures not only the movies but much of the anti-trafficking narrative as a whole. </p> <p>Despite their deep-seated prurience, both films were presented by feminist, anti-trafficking groups in New York, and both films featured premiere screenings at the United Nations. No one less than Hillary Clinton sat as an honorary member of the host committee for the UN showing of <em>Holly</em> (which was also sponsored by the feminist group Vital Voices, a group Clinton co-founded; <em>Trade</em>, meanwhile, was co-sponsored by Equality Now, for which Gloria Steinem acts as a trustee).</p> <p>Far from being treated as the sexual fantasies they so clearly are, these films have been treated as if they were highly realistic instances of investigative journalism. <em>Trade</em> is a “so-so” movie, <a href="http://www.ew.com/ew/article/0,,20058686,00.html">says <em>Entertainment Weekly</em></a>, “but as an exposé of how the new globalized industry of sex trafficking really works, it's a disquieting, eye-opening bulletin.” <a href="http://www.pastemagazine.com/articles/2007/11/our-ugliest-crime-holly-exposes-childsex-trafficki.html"><em>Paste</em> <em>Magazine</em> claims</a> that “<em>Holly</em> exposes child sex trafficking,” while the <em>New York Times</em>&nbsp;labels it “a documentary-fiction hybrid.” The <a href="http://www.jewishjournal.com/arts/article/sad_encounter_prompts_sex_trafficking_docudrama_20071123"><em>JewishJournal</em> goes so far as to suggest</a> it offers “the hyper-realistic portrayal of such a child's life.”</p> <p>Sex workers are usually paid to enact the fantasies of their clients. Here, these fantasies are imposed through both popular acclaim and policy initiative. While I genuinely do not care what gets people off—people enjoy watching horror movies like <em>Saw</em> all the time—having a good nose for the distinction between fantasy and reality should be a prerequisite for fantasy-play. Yet none of the people in charge seem to be able to discern the difference. Instead, this prurient trash is passed off as humanitarianism and applauded.</p> <p>For clarity’s sake, let me acknowledge that there are indeed people who suffer enormously within the sex industry, people who are coerced into prostitution and who are kept in conditions that amount to slavery. Perhaps there are even a few kidnapping victims out there. But while these small numbers exist, the vast majority of sex workers experience labour conditions that are entirely unlike these fantasy-fuelled scenarios. As has been documented by the GAATW (Global Alliance Against Trafficking in Women) and other researchers, the majority of people who migrate for sex work are well aware of what their future jobs entail. Many, perhaps most, have done the work before in their home countries.</p> <p>The difficulty with sexual-fantasy-as-news-reportage is that it promotes policies that may help a few individuals—by all means, send in the cops if someone has been kidnapped—but ignore the actual needs of the majority. Indeed, in many ways these policies make the situation worse for the majority and effectively <em>promote</em> ‘trafficking’. An example would be when anti-trafficking policies take the form of anti-migration laws, thereby pushing migrants directly into the hands of criminal networks to circumnavigate the controls. Even in cases of child prostitution, the projected fantasy life of mass culture does more to generate counter-productive policies than to help genuine victims. The new US focus on ‘domestic trafficking,’ for example, will simply result in even longer prison sentences for black men as ‘pimps/traffickers,’ while doing little to nothing for children fleeing sexual abuse within their homes. </p> <p>Let us not forget this last point, because—as feminists were keen to point out when they first raised the issue of child sexual abuse—it is <em>within the family</em> that the overwhelming majority of ‘child sex slaves’ exist. It is ultimately <em>these</em> children, the ones who are trapped and effectively enslaved within their homes, who will pay the price for the unrecognized and un-dealt-with sexual fantasy known as ‘child sex trafficking.’ It bears repeating again and again:&nbsp; <em>daddy</em>, not the man in the bushes, is the biggest rapist.</p> <p>Those who care about 'child sex slavery' would do well to turn their efforts to challenging on-going patriarchy within the home and to offer active support for children who run away from abusers rather than to punish near-mythical (and invariably non-white) offenders. As for the male heroes and rescuers, many of these guys seem like creepy dads to me. The feminists who help enable them to have literal close contact with prostituting girls and young women ought to wake up and notice with whom they’ve gotten into bed.&nbsp; </p> <blockquote> <p>A version of this review appeared in the Spring 2008 issue of <em>$pread</em>, 3(4): 51-2</p> </blockquote><p>&nbsp;</p> BeyondSlavery BeyondSlavery Kerwin Kaye Beyond popular representations of trafficking and slavery Wed, 28 Jan 2015 09:06:36 +0000 Kerwin Kaye 90014 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Domestic sex trafficking and the punitive side of anti-trafficking protection https://www.opendemocracy.net/beyondslavery/jennifer-musto/domestic-sex-trafficking-and-punitive-side-of-antitrafficking-protectio <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Despite efforts to automatically label teen and youth sex workers as ‘victims’ of trafficking, and thereby prevent their prosecution, their often extensive interactions with the legal system continue to leave lasting marks.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-large'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/555228/2265011.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_large/wysiwyg_imageupload/555228/2265011.jpg" alt="" title="" width="400" height="599" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-large imagecache imagecache-article_large" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>English sex workers protest being targeted by 'anti-social behaviour' laws in 2013. See Li/Demotix. All Rights Reserved.</span></span></span></p><p>Domestic sex trafficking is a decidedly American invention. Legally codified in <a href="http://www.state.gov/j/tip/laws/">federal</a> and several other state laws, sex trafficking in general and domestic minor sex trafficking (DMST) in particular rebrands an old trend—underage children and teens’ forced involvement with commercial sex—and reframes it as a form of modern day slavery. While prostitution facilitated by pimps or other third party actors isn’t new <em>per se</em>, what is novel is the viewpoint that sex trafficking, which includes but isn’t limited to American youth and teen girls, is a localised manifestation of a global forced labour problem. Equally recent is the idea that anti-sex trafficking initiatives have the capacity to produce more ‘victim centred’ results than criminal justice interventions of the past.</p><p>Over the course of the last six years, I have researched the evolution of domestic sex trafficking in the United States and tracked different state and non-state collaborative interventions authorised in its name. What has emerged is that youth deemed ‘at risk’ of domestic sex trafficking may be arrested, charged or placed in detention in order to be protected by law enforcement. Relatedly, many adults are only recognised as victims of sex trafficking after they have been processed as criminal defendants, a problem acknowledged by the existence of special court initiatives to identify “<a href="http://www.courtinnovation.org/research/announcement-new-yorks-human-trafficking-intervention-initiative">defendants who have been trafficked</a>.” These are initiatives pitched as alternatives to more typical criminal justice responses like arrest, detention, and prosecution, yet they still situate the criminal justice system as the main conduit through which victims of domestic sex trafficking gain access to services, programmes and some modicum of protection. </p><p>There is growing recognition among anti-trafficking actors, particularly with respect to youth, that calling kids victims in name but continuing to treat them like juvenile offenders is deeply flawed. One response has been for many states—<a href="http://www.ncsl.org/research/civil-and-criminal-justice/human-trafficking-overview.aspx#Safe%20Harbor">28</a> so far—to implement some version of Safe Harbor laws. ‘Safe Harbor’ refers to laws that recognise youth as victims and aim to bring state laws “<a href="http://digitalcommons.wcl.american.edu/lpb/vol4/iss2/3/">into line</a>” with the federal Victims of Trafficking Victim Protection Act. Another response has to do with language, and one recent effort has sought to change how we talk about sex trafficking situations involving youth. In January 2015, selected advocacy groups in the United States along with members of Congress launched the “<a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/01/08/us-trafficking-us-children-idUSKBN0KH26920150108">No Such Thing</a>” campaign, an effort that seeks to change the treatment of victims of child sex trafficking by calling for the eradication of “<a href="http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/members-of-congress-join-rights4girls-and-the-mccain-institute-to-combat-child-sex-trafficking-300017851.html">the term ‘child prostitute’</a>”. The campaign links a shift in language to changes in how youth are legally treated, implicitly suggesting that referring to girls as ‘trafficked’ rather than ‘child prostitutes’ will set the stage for their treatment as victims rather than offenders. </p><p>I welcome a change in how we talk about youths’ experiences with exploitation, no matter its form. I also wholly agree that a departure from the current paradigm, in which youth in some jurisdictions may be subject to some version of a <a href="http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10624-013-9295-0">detention-to-protection</a> pipeline, is desperately needed. Yet whether passing more laws or striking ‘child prostitute’ from the vernacular will substantively change to how youth are treated remains to be seen, especially if such efforts aren’t accompanied by a critical evaluation of the ‘trafficking’ part of the equation and the interventions it has produced.</p><p>Indeed, for all of the recent claims that terms like ‘<a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/beyondslavery/jason-congdon/speaking-of-%E2%80%9Cdead-prostitutes%E2%80%9D-how-catw-promotes-survivors-to-silence-se">sex work</a>’ and ‘child prostitute’ mask conditions of exploitation assumed to undergird all commercial, transactional, and survival sexual arrangements, it is striking that a commensurate degree of public outcry has not been lodged against the fraught term ‘trafficking.’ Equally troubling is that collective concerns haven’t been raised about anti-sex trafficking campaigns’ attachment to <a href="http://www.sph.umich.edu/symposium/2010/pdf/bernstein2.pdf">carceral feminist</a> sensibilities, or about the uneven and sometimes punitive effects that anti-sex trafficking efforts have on migrants, voluntary sex workers, and now domestic youth and adults in the United States. </p><p>If there is a language change I’m calling for it is for students of forced labour and exploitation to become more fluent in speaking the language of collateral consequences. Criminologists and sex workers’ rights groups use the term collateral to frame the effects of the carceral state and anti-sex trafficking initiatives<em>.&nbsp; </em>Many scholars of the U.S. carceral state have focused on the<a href="http://thenewpress.com/books/invisible-punishment"> collateral consequences of mass incarceration</a> on individuals and <a href="http://ccj.asu.edu/news-events/conferences/downloads/asu-paper-3-todd-clear">communities</a>, particularly communities of colour. Similarly, sex workers’ rights groups have pointed to the collateral <a href="http://www.gaatw.org/Collateral%20Damage_Final/singlefile_CollateralDamagefinal.pdf">impact of anti-trafficking efforts</a> on migrants who have endured ‘rescue’ <a href="http://sexworkersproject.org/publications/reports/raids-and-trafficking">raids</a>, <a href="http://childtrafficking.com/Docs/artip_detention_0808_final_0109.pdf">shelter-detention</a>, and, more generally, born the <a href="http://gas.sagepub.com/content/17/6/923.short">punitive brunt</a> of anti-trafficking laws. People now seen as at-risk of domestic sex trafficking in the United States must similarly contend with the collateral consequences of the criminal justice system, <a href="http://sexworkersproject.org/downloads/2012/20120422-memo-vacating-convictions.pdf">criminal convictions</a>, and the anti-trafficking interventions designed to help them.</p><p>For example, youth may be referred to anti-sex trafficking initiatives through an arrest, which introduces them into the system and opens up access to services or specialised programming. Even though this may not lead to a prosecution <em>per se</em>,<em> </em>it may still produce a criminal record that cannot be expunged, to use a legal postconviction term, without extensive effort. As an <a href="http://fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/R43677.pdf">August 2014 <em>Congressional Research Report</em></a> on domestic sex trafficking explains:</p><blockquote> <p>These [diversion] programs generally defer prosecution on the condition of successful completion of a treatment program. At that point, charges <em>may</em> be reduced or dismissed. This <em>may or may not</em> involve records being expunged” (emphasis mine).</p> </blockquote><p>Though new anti-trafficking programmes appear, on the surface, to depart from more punitive juvenile justice interventions of the past, the devil is in the details. Even when youths are recognised as victims of domestic sex trafficking, their protracted involvement in the justice system may still result in criminal records. Their status as victims may not protect them from the consequences of this, including limits on “<a href="http://fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/R43677.pdf">future education, employment, housing, financial, and other life opportunities</a>.”</p><p>I agree that it is time <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/beyondslavery/neil-howard-genevieve-lebaron-cameron-thibos/introduction">to move beyond trafficking</a> and to address its <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/beyondslavery/bridget-anderson/extreme-exploitation-is-not-problem-of-human-nature">structural</a> roots. &nbsp;In the interim, attention to domestic sex trafficking in the United States presents a timely opportunity to take stock of the collateral consequences the current framing has had on those migrants and domestic populations most directly affected, and to cultivate less punitive ways of interacting with them. This is crucial, as at the end of the day the purpose of anti-trafficking is to ameliorate systems that make people vulnerable to exploitation. This includes challenging the laws, systems, language and state-sponsored interventions that fail to adequately protect people in the first place.</p><blockquote> <p><em>This article draws upon insights from a previously published article “Domestic Sex Trafficking and the Detention-to-Protection Pipeline,” </em>Dialectical Anthropology<em>, 37.2 (2013): 257-276, and a forthcoming book by Jennifer Musto, </em>To Control and Protect<em>, under contract with the University of California Press for release in 2016</em>.&nbsp;<em>&nbsp;</em></p> </blockquote><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/beyondslavery/jason-congdon/speaking-of-%E2%80%9Cdead-prostitutes%E2%80%9D-how-catw-promotes-survivors-to-silence-se">Speaking of “dead prostitutes”: how CATW promotes survivors to silence sex workers</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/beyondslavery/julia-o%27connell-davidson/convenient-conflations-modern-slavery-trafficking-and-prostit">Convenient conflations: modern slavery, trafficking, and prostitution</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> BeyondSlavery BeyondSlavery Jennifer Musto Beyond popular representations of trafficking and slavery Tue, 27 Jan 2015 05:00:00 +0000 Jennifer Musto 89958 at https://www.opendemocracy.net From HIV to trafficking: shifting frames for sex work in India https://www.opendemocracy.net/beyondslavery/svati-shah/from-hiv-to-trafficking-shifting-frames-for-sex-work-in-india <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The conflation of trafficking and prostitution in antitrafficking discourses not only frames all sex workers as victims in need of rescue, but elides the reasons many include sex work as part of their complex livelihood strategies.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/555228/2801363.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/555228/2801363.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="306" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Hijras in a train in Rajasthan in 2012. Giannis Papanikos/Demotix. All Rights Reserved.</span></span></span></p><p>NGOs focusing specifically on ‘sex work’ and ‘trafficking’ (where ‘trafficking’ is conflated with prostitution) in India have only been around since the mid and late 1990s. There has been a steep rise in their numbers in the last decade. Previously, if organizations addressed the needs of sex workers, they did so within the rubric of HIV/AIDS. Indian HIV/AIDS organizations were spurred into existence by the flow of international aid dollars that increasingly became available to organisations working in Asia, Africa, and Latin America during the first decade of the AIDS pandemic (1985-1995). Funds for HIV-related work in India came from the European Union, Sweden, Norway, and Canada into then relatively new entities like India’s National AIDS Control Organization (NACO). This money provided the infrastructural support for both governmental and nongovernmental efforts to surveil, control, and eventually treat HIV and AIDS. Local organisations also emerged as a result of this new funding to provide HIV-related services to sex workers, men who have sex with men, and <em>hijras&nbsp;</em>(people assigned male sex at birth who live as a ‘third sex’ in the feminine range of the gender spectrum).</p><p>By the late 1990s, thanks to feminist debates on pornography and prostitution, an antitrafficking framework—composed of laws, policies, and theories that used prostitution as an allegory for women’s oppression by men—was taking hold within some national governments and segments of the international policy-making community as a primary lens for understanding sexual commerce. This framework now largely dominates the discussion, having become the ‘common sense’ of sexual commerce and even, to a degree, migration among poor and working class people. This is despite the fact that the trafficking framework has been repeatedly criticised for conflating human trafficking with prostitution, and for failing to provide clear parameters for tracking the phenomena it aims to describe. It remains, for the moment, a significant but contested lens on sexual commerce for international policy, especially with respect to interventions crafted for countries in the Global South.</p><p>The rise in the explanatory power of the antitrafficking framework for understanding phenomena like migration and the exchange of sex and money in the Global South paralleled an increase in the significance of prostitution in the global image and imaginary of India, usually as the dark foil of India’s buoyant economic growth rates. By 2007, ‘prostitution in India’ had become a categorical focus for charitable organizations, an object of study for filmmakers, a worthy cause for politicians and celebrities, and a Wikipedia entry. This was not due to the discourse on HIV <em>per se</em>, nor was it due to an increase in the proliferation of HIV in India (the national rate of new infections decreased by half between 2000 and 2009). Rather, the increased significance of prostitution to the idea of India itself was linked with the increased global significance of the antitrafficking framework.</p><p>While this framework is far from being unequivocally dominant in managing and understanding prostitution, its increased significance in the halls of international policy formulation has helped position prostitution as particularly important to understandings of women in the Global South. This conflation of trafficking and prostitution is contextualised by a number of historical trends, including the ways in which discourses of venereal disease have figured female sex workers as infectious vectors since the nineteenth century. It is also contextualized by the altered conditions for labour migration brought about in the late 1980s and early1990s due to the adoption of neoliberal economic policies in many parts of the world; the well-rehearsed histories of feminist pornography debates in the United States; and the confluence of interests between governments and some segments of women’s movements in seeking to eliminate illegal and undocumented cross-border migration. While migrancy has changed dramatically in the era of neoliberalism, such that economic migrants are vulnerable to wage theft, debt bondage, exploitation, and abuse in new and unprecedented ways, we may ask whether the frame of ‘trafficking’ accurately tracks and addresses these vulnerabilities, or whether it is more effective in protecting states’ interests in securing and monitoring borders?</p><p>At worst, the rise in the explanatory power of ‘trafficking’ for prostitution consists of an elision of political economy within discourses of sexuality, contributing to the reproduction of the idea that sexual freedom, autonomy, expression, and even sexual subjectivity are all luxury goods, available only to those whose access to food and shelter is secure. This form of depoliticisation within sexuality politics in the United States and elsewhere has attracted much scholarly and activist attention, as well as criticism from both the mainstream left and the LGBTQ left. In my view, a sustained scholarly engagement with sexual commerce in the Global South would not only offer a way to critique prostitution <em>per se</em>. It would also demonstrate the kind of discussion of sexuality, politics, and power that is possible when sexuality is not primarily or exclusively understood as a form of individuated, innate human expression. </p><p>The result of this depoliticisation in understandings of sexual commerce has been the subjection of women and girls selling sexual services to a discourse in which prostitution is a state of being from which they must simply be rescued. In this discursive trajectory, sexual commerce is never figured as a livelihood strategy that is part of a complex set of negotiations for daily survival that include, but cannot be reduced to, violence and precarity. Just as identitarianism marginalises questions of political economy with respect to LGBTQ politics, the conflation of selling sexual services with human trafficking deprioritises and, in some spaces, erases the question of survival with respect to sexual commerce. This individuated frame reinforces and reifies the idea of origins, on the moment in which an individual subject <em>knew, came out, was forced</em>, was called into being, within a fixed subjective matrix. </p><p>_Street Corner Secrets&nbsp;_takes up this critique by asking what an analysis of sexual commerce would be if it were to use a framework other than trafficking, one that focuses instead, for example, on the relationship between sexuality and livelihood? How would such an analysis account for violence, without conflating the exchange of sex and money with violence? The book does this by emphasizing the idiosyncratic and extremely local ways in which laws and criminality are interpreted and enforced as part of a larger focus on migration and daily economic survival. This emphasis is able to account for the relationship between sexual commerce and the profoundly uneven and inadequate access to water and land among poor migrants living in Mumbai. Here, the difference between living in a brothel and a slum is, among another things, the relatively higher access to municipal services like water and government-run schools among brothel-based sex workers, compared with those eking out a living in the slums at the edge of the city. </p><p>The emphasis in the book on livelihood, economic informality, housing and the liminal legal zones migrants must navigate in the city opens up a number of questions that are subsumed, or unasked, when abolitionism imbricated with trafficking serves as the primary interpretive frame for sexual commerce. What, for example, could a critical examination of sexual commerce reveal about the politics of day wage labour? What would it show about the exercise of state power on the urban street? What could it reveal about economic survival, in the Indian context, or in any other? Addressing these questions brings us closer to discursively repositioning violence, such that we may account for violence as it is meted out in myriad forms by police, housing authorities, and clients against people selling sexual services, while also explaining why sexual commerce endures as a livelihood strategy among people who are extracting survival from an shrinking field of economic options.</p><blockquote> <p><em>Excerpted and condensed from the Preface and Introduction of</em> Street Corner Secrets: Sex, Work and Migration in the City of Mumbai, <em>Duke University Press, 2014</em></p> </blockquote> BeyondSlavery BeyondSlavery Svati Shah Beyond popular representations of trafficking and slavery Mon, 26 Jan 2015 05:00:00 +0000 Svati Shah 89917 at https://www.opendemocracy.net How big is the trafficking problem? The mysteries of quantification https://www.opendemocracy.net/beyondslavery/sally-engle-merry/how-big-is-trafficking-problem-mysteries-of-quantification <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Wildly different numbers circulate about the number of trafficking victims and modern-day slaves. Victims are hard to count because they are hidden and definitions are ambiguous, yet efforts to quantify them shape what we know and do about trafficking.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/555228/1057823.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/555228/1057823.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="305" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>A sex worker in Kolkata, India in 2012. Arindam Mukherjee/Demotix. All Rights Reserved.</span></span></span></p><p>Horror stories of innocent young women tricked or sold into prostitution by unfeeling parents, carted across international borders, and thrown into slave-like conditions in brothels have made human trafficking one the hottest topics of the decade. This conception of trafficking has all the trappings of a popular issue: the innocent girl, sexually abused, and the villainous perpetrator, an organized crime boss. It invites a saviour mentality and acts of rescue. The rhetoric of trafficking has been augmented as of late by the concept of slavery, a hot-button idea that generates even more public outrage and donor support. But how accurate is this picture and how widespread is the abuse? </p><p>Ethnographic studies of sex workers and trafficked victims show a far more complex picture, one in which migrant smuggling and labour migration blur with what is labelled as trafficking. A young woman may leave her village in search of a job that will support her family or her children, expecting to work in a factory but discovering that sex pays better. Alternatively, she may take a job in a bar only to learn she is expected to do sex work as well. Women may be trafficked by neighbours or relatives as well as by organised crime bosses. Moreover, it appears that the majority of exploited labour do jobs other than sex work, and that they are coerced by a range of factors including poverty, kinship obligations, fear of violence, debt, and even the desire for the trappings of modernity. </p><p>The movement into victim status is often a complicated process. Some steps might be made on the basis of consent while others are relatively less free. What makes labour exploitative is similarly diverse and hard to specify. To add to the definitional morass, there are currently efforts to re-frame trafficking victims under new labels such as ‘modern-day slavery.’ The US State Department, for its part, no longer includes the criterion of cross-border mobility in its definition, even though this has long been a core principle of trafficking.</p><p>Not only are these definitions vague, overlapping, and even contradictory, but they are changing over time. This creates clear difficulties for determining who should be considered trafficked, yet agencies and advocates continue their attempts to tabulate numbers of victims and traffickers. Some count forced labourers, some sex workers, some cross-border labour migrants, and some a combination of these and other statuses such as involuntary domestic servitude and child marriage. Practical obstacles to finding people in the shadowy, secretive conditions in which such workers exist only exacerbate these problems of definition. Big numbers are necessary to draw attention to the problem, even though they are acknowledged as guesses, and they vary wildly.</p><p>For example, the U.S. State Department estimated in its 2005 <a href="http://www.state.gov/j/tip/rls/tiprpt/"><em>Trafficking in Persons Report</em></a> that 600,000 to 800,000 people are trafficked across borders every year, of whom 14,500 to 17,500 are trafficked into the US. Approximately 80 percent are women and girls and up to 50 percent are minors. Of these, there are “hundreds of thousands used in prostitution.” In the same year, the International Labour Organization <a href="http://www.ilo.org/global/publications/ilo-bookstore/order-online/books/WCMS_081882/lang--en/index.htm">estimated</a> that 2.45 million people are trafficked and 1.05 million are trafficked into sex work from a global population of 12.3 million forced labourers. Meanwhile, Kevin Bales estimated in his 2005 book <a href="http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/0520272919/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1634&amp;creative=19450&amp;creativeASIN=0520272919&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=opendemocra0e-21"><em>Disposable People</em></a> that there are 27 million modern-day slaves.</p><p>However, the number of identified victims is a great deal smaller. For example, according to the State Department <em>TIP Reports</em> there were only 30,961 identified victims in 2008, the first year for which this information is provided. By 2012, there were 46,570. As of 2009, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) had about 13,500 trafficked persons representing more than 90 countries in its database of registered victims. </p><p>Despite this diversity of these numbers, a few of these estimates of trafficking victims circulate widely, gaining credibility through repetition. Some are repeated over and over in various documents until they acquire an aura of truth and are commonly cited simply as, for example, ‘US government’ data. Clearly, this is a hidden population and hard to count. Yet the vast disparity between estimates and counts of actual victims raises questions about how these numbers are produced and how big the problem is. There are undoubtedly some people victimised by the processes defined as trafficking and slavery, but how many is still unknown. The proliferation of large numbers does little to clarify the picture. </p><p>Any system of measurement confronts problems in determining how to reduce the buzzing confusion of social life to categories amenable to counting. The many systems employed today to count trafficking victims use different conceptions of trafficking and different measurement protocols. Each has an underlying theory about what the problem is and how it should be solved. Under conditions of uncertainty of this kind, a social phenomenon will ultimately come to be defined by whatever system of measurement prevails. In other words, the act of measurement creates the object of measurement. We may not know what intelligence is, but we do know that there is something that IQ tests measure that we call intelligence. Similarly, concepts such as the rule of law or failed states are broad and multi-faceted, yet are given more specific content by projects that claim to measure them in ways that permit comparisons across countries.</p><p><span>Thus, as scholars, international and national governments, and non-governmental organisations measure trafficking, they define it. The definition of the problem implicitly determines which policy should address it, whether rescues, labour regulations, migrant visas, information flyers at airports, or poverty reduction programmes. How things are counted has clear consequences for understanding what the problem is and what should be done about it.</span></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/beyondslavery/ronald-weitzer/miscounting-human-trafficking-and-slavery">Miscounting human trafficking and slavery</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/anne-gallagher/global-slavery-index-seduction-and-obfuscation">The Global Slavery Index: seduction and obfuscation</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/anne-gallagher/human-trafficking-from-outrage-to-action">Human trafficking: from outrage to action</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> BeyondSlavery BeyondSlavery Sally Engle Merry Beyond popular representations of trafficking and slavery Mon, 26 Jan 2015 05:00:00 +0000 Sally Engle Merry 89915 at https://www.opendemocracy.net RasTafari and reparation time https://www.opendemocracy.net/beyondslavery/robbie-shilliam/rastafari-and-reparation-time <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>RasTafari reject the clear-cut distinction between ‘old’ and ‘new’ slavery put forward by ‘white abolitionism’, as this only gives absolution to formally slave-trading European publics where there should be none. They demand reparations because justice has not yet been served.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/555228/X2 20140801_144017 Small.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/555228/X2 20140801_144017 Small.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="817" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>People march to demand reparations in 2014. Photo by author. </span></span></span></p><p>Last March, <a href="http://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/insidestory/2014/03/slavery-reparations-money-answer-2014311171047735164.html">Al Jazeera aired a debate</a> on the case for reparations currently being pursued against European governments by the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), an inter-governmental organisation and economic union of 15 Caribbean states. Kevin Bales, one of the most influential intellectuals of the ‘new slavery’ thesis, confirmed the numerous legacies of the “old slavery” on the programme, including contemporary racism, and supported the case put forward by the regional organisation. He did, though, state one proviso: “my only concerns are of course about the people who are in slavery today... if we have a smaller pie I want to make sure that we first serve those people who are in modern forms of slavery. [Those] who are needing both liberation, reintegration and often restitution to make new lives, as opposed to focusing on the past.”</p> <p>Five months later, on 1 August 2014, five to six thousand people of predominantly African descent <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vjqxkC9Gr04">marched from Windrush Square, Brixton to Downing Street, London</a> to demand <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PHp06KrSPVM">reparations</a>, delivering a petition of over 65,000 signatures that stated: </p> <p>The lack of accountability by those responsible confirms the ongoing racism which creates disproportionate detriment to the offspring of the millions of individuals that were stolen from Afrika ... Today the offspring of the stolen Afrikans encounter direct and indirect racial discrimination daily. This results in poverty, lack of education, unemployment, imprisonment and ill health.</p> <p><a href="http://rastafariuk.com/">RasTafari Movement UK</a> organised the march, along with active support from a number of other Pan-African organisations, and its members featured heavily in the demonstration. Most who took part in the reparations march would probably disagree with Bales’ prioritisation of “new” slavery, and especially the peculiar time limit he gave to the moral weight of restitution for past wrongs. </p> <p>The reparations march deliberately coincided with the 180th anniversary of the emancipation of the British Caribbean, which took place on 1 August 1834. Even though the Jamaican government discontinued Emancipation Day commemorations after it gained independence from Great Britain in 1962, the RasTafari movement and others continued to commemorate 1 August. Their logic was this: who in their right mind would celebrate their political independence if they had yet to be fully emancipated? The march on parliament last summer was guided by the same reasoning. </p> <p>To understand this logic, it is important to highlight a distinction between the sense of time that emanates from a moral philosophy that I would term ‘<a href="http://robbieshilliam.files.wordpress.com/2012/11/black-redemption.pdf">white abolitionism</a>’ and the temporal sensibilities that are fundamental to <a href="http://www.yasusafari.com/index.asp?pageid=457439">RasTafari philosophy</a> (as well as much Black liberation thought in general). White abolitionism sees time as linear, delineating between the legal end of the ‘old’ stage of slavery and the beginning of the ‘new’ stage of freedom. In this new beginning, ‘old’ slaveholding constituents become magically transformed into ‘new’ humanitarians, who disavow moral accountability for the fate of the once enslaved but now formally ‘free’. In doing so, they turn their moral compass to new horizons of oppression and injustice wherein they can claim status as innocent interveners.</p> <p>RasTafari philosophy sees time differently. Rather than a succession of linear stages, time is redemptive and comprised fundamentally of a struggle between the forces of Babylon and Africa-Zion. The <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jNZcf8WtBiY">Babylonian system</a> destroys natural forces, pollutes and enslaves the body, mind and spirit, and reproduces inequality in the pursuit of profiting at the expense of others. But unlike the linear time of white abolitionism, for RasTafari Babylon manifests time and time again—in the Atlantic slave system, in Mussolini’s Fascist Italy (and the Papacy), and in the present <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0rTM6d1aRIE">‘shit-stem’</a> of global capitalism. Hence for RasTafari the past of slavery is not behind us. It is with us. The struggles of the ancestors must be redeemed because their suffering manifests in the conditions presently experienced by their descendants.</p> <p>In “chanting down Babylon,” RasTafari know that fickle Western humanitarianism will not save them; they must save themselves. The self-repair of a community brought together by a shared fate spans social, psychological, spiritual and economic factors far exceeding the strictly juridical cornerstone of White abolitionism. This is why the cornerstone of reparations for RasTafari is their demand for repatriation to the African continent.</p> <p>For some observers such a desire for African redemption is romantic and politically naive. However, in terms of moral philosophy RasTafari consider it natural justice, as it undertakes a full repair of the breach to humanity caused by the trafficking of humans across the oceans as super-exploitable chattel. Moreover, there are also plenty of socially and politically astute RasTafari organisations that work at local and global levels to develop repatriation projects. <a href="https://www.facebook.com/afrikahallinc">Afrika Hall</a>, for example, enjoys UN consultative status and is presently involved in scoping out the Akuapem eco-village project in Ghana. It should be noted that political projects undertaken by RasTafari from the continent, especially in South Africa, are increasingly interfacing and interacting with the Diasporic reparations movement.&nbsp; </p> <p>The moral compass of repatriation was calibrated with an Afri-centric interpretation of the Bible narrative, revealing a redemptive prophecy that is best expressed in Psalms 68:31: “Princes shall come out of Egypt [the lands of enslavement], <a href="http://rastaites.com/livity/anthem.htm">Ethiopia [enslaved Africans] shall soon stretch forth her hands unto God</a>.” For RasTafari, this prophesy was given political urgency by <a href="http://www.theunia-acl.com/index.php/marcus-garvey-1887-1940">Marcus Garvey’s</a> early twentieth century call for <a href="http://www.english.illinois.edu/maps/poets/a_f/dumas/redemption.jpg">African redemption</a>. It became manifest with the <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SJl0i_yvxQM">coronation in 1930 of Ras Tafari</a> as Haile Selassie I, Emperor of Ethiopia. Twelve years later, in 1948, it was given a discrete set of geographical coordinates when Selassie I gifted 5 <em>gashas</em> of crown land at Shashemene to the African Diaspora, in recognition of their <a href="http://robbieshilliam.wordpress.com/2013/03/29/roots-and-routes-of-the-italianethiopian-war-in-guyana/">support for Ethiopia</a> during the Italian occupation of 1935-1941. </p> <p>In 1955, the administration of the Shashemene land grant was included within the <a href="http://ethiopianworldfederation.com/">Ethiopian World Federation</a> (EWF), an organisation that began in Harlem in response to the Italian invasion. There remains today a strong RasTafari settlement in Shashemene. <a href="https://robbieshilliam.files.wordpress.com/2015/01/warning-from-ewf-in-shashamane-2014.pdf">The local EWF chapter is presently lobbying the Ethiopian government to recognise once again the legality of the land grant</a>, which was decimated by the communist Dergue regime’s (1974-1987) land nationalisation programme. The land question is heavily implicated in demands for Ethiopian citizenship, as many RasTafari inhabitants of Shashemene (including children) are effectively stateless, holding no passport, with very limited access to rights and justice.</p> <p>RasTafari organized and marched on 1 August 2014 because the system that produced the ‘old’ slavery still exists. It continues to exert a detrimental effect on descendants of enslaved Africans, as well as their relatives on the continent. For RasTafari it makes no sense to talk of old or new slavery. The Babylon system iterates and mutates and must be chanted down in all its forms. Kevin Bales needs to change his moral philosophy. There is no time limit to the moral injunction on reparations. In comparison to the un-accountability of white abolitionism, the RasTafari movement argues that there is an on-going spiritual and physical war between Babylon and Africa-Zion. Thus, reparation time is now. This is the sentiment of the chant we sounded out on the lawns in front of parliament:&nbsp; </p> <p>400 years in a Babylon, 400 years. </p> <p>400 years in a Babylon, 400 years. </p><p> And I and I never yet cease the fire till Babylon walls burn down.</p> BeyondSlavery BeyondSlavery Robbie Shilliam Beyond popular representations of trafficking and slavery Fri, 16 Jan 2015 05:00:00 +0000 Robbie Shilliam 89579 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Modern slavery, child trafficking, and the rise of West African football academies https://www.opendemocracy.net/beyondslavery/james-esson/modern-slavery-child-trafficking-and-rise-of-west-african-football-academi <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Ghanaian football academies have been accused of exploiting talent and promoting trafficking in search of profit, but the quest for social mobility in a time of economic liberalisation is what drives young footballers into the industry in the first place.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-large'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/555228/Ebo_Andoh.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_large/wysiwyg_imageupload/555228/Ebo_Andoh.jpg" alt="" title="" width="400" height="570" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-large imagecache imagecache-article_large" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Ebo Andoh played for the Accra Hearts of Oak in Ghana's under-20 league in 2010. Biso/Wikimedia Commons.</span></span></span></p><p>Football administrators, academics and human rights activists have recently drawn attention to some unsavoury activities taking place in West African football academies. Analysts are concerned that the academy system has become a vehicle for <a href="https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=K2WSAgAAQBAJ&amp;pg=PA245&amp;lpg=PA245&amp;dq=Blatter+neo+colonialists+rape&amp;source=bl&amp;ots=zpxkTUvpOZ&amp;sig=KY77-qKMIyGar-UGt0yq9meSNwQ&amp;hl=en&amp;sa=X&amp;ei=ZfGXVLC2C-mP7AbdmYD4Dg&amp;ved=0CCoQ6AEwAQ#v=onepage&amp;q=Blatter%20neo%20colonialists%20rape&amp;f=false">neo-colonial exploitation</a> that fuels human trafficking. They argue that European clubs and speculators take ownership or executive control of African-based academies to sidestep certain regulations, such as the ban on the international transfer of minors, in order to sign African talent at an early age and then profit from their subsequent sale to rich, typically European, clubs. Some commentators, including <a href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/2009/sep/05/uefa-fifa-child-footballer-transfers">FIFA President Sepp Blatter</a>, have gone as far as to label this situation a modern day slave trade. Meanwhile <a href="http://www.uefa.org/about-uefa/president/news/newsid=801478.html">UEFA President Michel Platini</a> has suggested this transfer process is tantamount to child trafficking. </p><p>It is true that a dynamic relationship exists between capitalism, colonial pasts and some current practices in the football industry. However I want to use this brief article as an opportunity to move away from headline grabbing hyperbolic statements, and towards a more critical reflection of events taking in place in West African football. To do so I will draw on my recent field research in Ghana, one of the top five exporters of African football players.</p><h2>The exponential growth of Ghana’s football academies</h2><p>Some scholars of African football have highlighted how football academies have been a constant in post-independence Ghana’s footballing landscape. In Ghana, like other parts of the world, these academies take a variety forms. They range from well-funded establishments affiliated with professional clubs to amateur, neighbourhood teams set up on an informal basis and lacking qualified staff or proper infrastructure. Researchers have drawn attention to the transfer practices of professional teams and a handful of other high profile, corporately sponsored academies, and it is here that debates over neo-colonial exploitation tend to emerge. Less well documented are the changes taking place at smaller academies associated with amateur youth football or, as it is colloquially known in Ghana, Colts football (under 12, 14 and 17 years of age). </p><p>The last two decades have witnessed a significant increase in the establishment of clubs and academies for youths, and an even more notable increase in player registrations. According to the Ghanaian Football Association (GFA) regional office in Accra, approximately 700 clubs in 12 regional zones are in the national ‘Colts’ league. In Accra alone there are 240 clubs, and combined they boast a registration list of more than 20,000 players. These figures constitute a significant increase when compared to the previous decade, and there is genuine concern among administrators that this growth is unsustainable due to shortages in referees and playing pitches.&nbsp; </p><p>This increase in the establishment of academies is being driven by unemployed and precariously employed youth in their twenties and early thirties who see themselves as entrepreneurs. They view owning a Colts team as more than a recreational activity or hobby. It is a window of opportunity, a chance to be self-sufficient and economically active. They take financial risks and invest in Colts football in the hope of making a profit. </p><p>Somewhat ironically, this situation is linked to the international transfer regulations introduced by FIFA in 2001. FIFA attempted to limit the international migration of minors by deterring rich—i.e. European—clubs from signing talented young players based in the Global South. A ruling was made stipulating that clubs involved in the training and education of players between the ages of 12 and 23 must receive financial compensation from the buying club. This compensation can range from hundreds to millions of US dollars. </p><p>The 2001 FIFA regulations thus give the labour and investment spent training a youth player monetary value. This makes footballers at academies more than human resources. They are also a potential source of capital. Crucially, this financial value can only be realised when a player is transferred or sold to another club. This has resulted in intense financial speculation and increased trading of young Ghanaian players by academy owners, who are searching for a star to sell at a profit to a foreign club. This means that football academies no longer exist to merely create players for Ghanaian leagues, but are increasingly geared towards the grooming and export of players to foreign clubs. </p><p>Young aspirant footballers are not oblivious to the financial rewards football provides. In today’s era of worldwide information streams, Ghanaian youth are not only captivated by the performances of the players who adorn their television screens, they are also made aware of the wealth and lifestyles associated with professional football. Yet we should look beyond the bling, glitz and glamour because this explanatory crux leaves much unexplained.</p><h2>Football as a perceived path out of poverty</h2><p>The idea that a career in football is a viable livelihood strategy capable of lifting an individual and their family out of poverty has emerged in certain strata of society, especially among young, poorly-educated Ghanaian males from low-income families. These youths are acutely aware that they either currently are, or eventually will become, solely responsible for ensuring their future economic wellbeing. They are also well aware that financial support in the form of state welfare is unlikely to be forthcoming. </p><p>Alongside this construction of young Ghanaians as responsible for their future life chances is a widespread belief that migration, preferably to Europe, offers a solution to economic uncertainty and marginalisation. Problematically, this migratory disposition is accompanied by a realisation that obtaining a visa to enter a European country is easier said than done. It is here that a key appeal of a career in football becomes apparent. </p><p>To many young Ghanaians, the rags to riches stories of the professional football player who used sport as a vehicle for migration offers a blueprint for obtaining the trappings associated with a successful life. In a context where youth are frequently encouraged to be job creators rather than job seekers, the idea that the answer to economic uncertainty resides within your own body is a particularly appealing proposition. In order to turn such ambitions into realities, entering the Ghanaian football industry and joining football clubs appear as obvious next steps. The increase in the number of youths involved in Colts football, as well as the upsurge in the number of football academies, both result from the convergence in the Ghanaian football industry of economic liberalisation with migration-based efforts at upward social mobility.</p><p>This is no trivial matter, because a generation of male youth are diverting their energies and attention to a profession that is unlikely to reward their devotion with the employment and social status they so desperately crave. As the Ghanaian Football Association executive Herbert Adika succinctly put it, ‘presently everybody wants to play football by force but all of us cannot be footballers’. This quote encapsulates one of my concerns with headline-grabbing, hyperbolic statements about neo-colonial exploitation, slave trades and child trafficking. These narratives often divert attention away from the broader structural conditions that funnel youth into the football industry in the first place.</p><p>Finding solutions to the issues raised in this article will require looking beyond the football industry and asking some tough questions about the state of play in Ghanaian society more generally, but that is what makes such an endeavour worthwhile.&nbsp;</p> BeyondSlavery BeyondSlavery James Esson Beyond popular representations of trafficking and slavery Thu, 15 Jan 2015 05:00:00 +0000 James Esson 89585 at https://www.opendemocracy.net ‘Irish slaves’: the convenient myth https://www.opendemocracy.net/beyondslavery/liam-hogan/%E2%80%98irish-slaves%E2%80%99-convenient-myth <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The conflation of indentured servitude with chattel slavery in the ‘Irish slaves’ narrative whitewashes history in the service of Irish nationalist and white supremacist causes. Its resurgence in the wake of Ferguson reflects many Americans’ denial of the entrenched racism still prevalent in their society.</p> </div> </div> </div> <div style="float: right; padding: 20px; margin: 0px; background-color: #dfdfdf; outline: 1px solid white; outline-offset: -10px;"> <h2 style="margin-top: 0px; padding-top: 0px;">Don't miss Liam Hogan's new article</h2> <p style="padding-bottom: 0px; margin-bottom: 0px; font-size: 110%;"><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/beyondslavery/liam-hogan/two-years-of-irish-slaves-myth-racism-reductionism-and-tradition-of-diminis">Two years of the ‘Irish slaves’ myth: racism, reductionism and the tradition of diminishing the transatlantic slave trade</a></p> <div style="width: 200px; float: right; padding-left: 10px;padding-top:10px;"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/u555228/PA-28055137.jpg" alt="" width="200" /></div> <p style="padding-bottom: 0px; margin-bottom: 0px; font-size: 100%;">The myth of ‘Irish slaves’ and of an ‘equality of suffering’ between enslaved Africans and white Europeans has gone mainstream, appearing everywhere to legitimate racism and to undermine black rights struggles.</p> </div> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/555228/Hogan_Irish_power.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/555228/Hogan_Irish_power.png" alt="" title="" width="460" height="637" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Supplied by the author from Twitter.</span></span></span></p><p>It was with a heavy heart and no small amount of anger that I decided it was necessary to write a public refutation of the insidious myth that the Irish were once chattel slaves in the British colonies. The subject of this myth is not an issue in academic circles, for there is unanimous agreement, based on overwhelming evidence, that the Irish were never subjected to perpetual, hereditary slavery in the colonies, based on notions of ‘race’. Unfortunately this is not the case in the public domain and the ‘Irish slaves’ myth has been shared so frequently online that it has gone viral.</p> <p class="mag-quote-right">The tale of the Irish slaves is rooted in a false conflation of indentured servitude and chattel slavery. These are not the same.</p> <p>The tale of the Irish slaves is rooted in a false conflation of indentured servitude and chattel slavery. These are not the same. Indentured servitude was a form of bonded labour, whereby a migrant agreed to work for a set period of time (between two and seven years) and in return the cost of the voyage across the Atlantic was covered. Indentured servitude was a colonial innovation that enabled many to emigrate to the New World while providing a cheap and white labour force for planters and merchants to exploit. Those who completed their term of service were awarded ‘freedom dues’ and were free. The vast majority of labourers who agreed to this system did so voluntarily, but there were many who were forcibly transplanted from the British Isles to the colonies and sold into indentured service against their will. While these forced deportees would have included political prisoners and serious felons, it is believed that the majority came from the poor and vulnerable. This forced labour was in essence an extension of the English Poor Laws, e.g. in 1697 John Locke recommended the whipping of those who ‘refused to work’ and the herding of beggars into workhouses. Indeed this criminalisation of the poor continues into the 21st century. In any case, all bar the serious felons were freed once the term of their contract expired.&nbsp;</p><p>“White indentured servitude was so very different from black slavery as to be from another galaxy of human experience,” as Donald Harman Akenson put it in <a href="http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/0853239622/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1634&amp;creative=19450&amp;creativeASIN=0853239622&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=opendemocra0e-21"><em>If the Irish Ran the World: Montserrat, 1630-1730</em></a>. How so? Chattel slavery was perpetual, a slave was only free once they they were no longer alive; it was hereditary, the children of slaves were the property of their owner; the status of chattel slave was designated by ‘race’, there was no escaping your bloodline; a chattel slave was treated like livestock, you could kill your slaves while applying “moderate correction” and the homicide law would not apply; the execution of ‘insolent’ slaves was encouraged in these slavocracies to deter insurrections and disobedience, and their owners were paid generous compensation for their ‘loss’; an indentured servant could appeal to a court of law if they were mistreated, a slave had no recourse for justice. And so on..</p><h2><strong>A dangerous myth</strong></h2><p>The prevalence and endurance of this myth is partly due to the fact that it is buttressed by two long-standing narratives. The first narrative comes from the arena of Irish nationalism, where the term 'slavery' is used to highlight the political, social and religious subjugation or persecution that the Irish have historically suffered. In this narrative, the term ‘Irish slaves’ refers specifically to those who were forced onto transport ships and sold into indentured servitude in the West Indies during the Cromwellian era. The 'innocent' usage of this phrase is, to a degree, understandable and its conflation with chattel slavery generally occurs due to a mixture of ignorance and confusion. More objectionable is the canon of pseudo-history books like O'Callaghan's <em>To Hell or Barbados</em> or Walsh and Jordan's <em>White Cargo</em>, which knowingly conflate indentured servitude and chattel slavery. The ‘Irish slaves’ myth is also a convenient focal point for nationalist histories as it obscures the critically underwritten story of how so many Irish people, whether Gaelic, Hiberno-Norman or Anglo-Irish, benefited from the Atlantic slave trade and other colonial exploits in multiple continents for hundreds of years.</p><p>The second narrative is of a more sinister nature. Found in the websites and forums of white supremacist conspiracy theorists, this insidiously claims that indentured servitude can be equated with chattel slavery. From Stormfront.org, a self-described online community of white nationalists, to David Icke’s February 2014 <a href="http://www.infowars.com/perception-deception-with-david-icke/">interview with Infowars.com</a>, the narrative of the ‘White slaves’ is continuously promoted. The most influential book to claim that there was ‘white slavery’ in Colonial America was Michael Hoffman’s <em>They Were White and They Were Slaves: The Untold History of the Enslavement of Whites in Early America</em>. Self-published in 1993, Hoffman, a Holocaust denier, unsurprisingly blames the Atlantic slave trade on the Jews. By blurring the lines between the different forms of unfree labour, these white supremacists seek to conceal the incontestable fact that these slavocracies were controlled by—and operated for the benefit of—white Europeans. This narrative, which exists almost exclusively in the United States, is essentially a form of nativism and racism masquerading as conspiracy theory. Those that push this narrative have now adopted the ‘Irish slaves’ myth, and they use it as a rhetorical ‘attack dog’ which aims to shut down all debate about the legacy of black slavery in the United States.</p> <p class="mag-quote-center">This myth of convenience is being utilised by those who are unwilling to accept the truth of their white privilege and the prevalence of an entrenched racism in their societies.</p> <p>In the wake of the Ferguson shooting, both of these narratives were conjoined in a particularly ugly fashion. Many social media users, including some Irish-Americans, invoked this mythology to chide African-Americans for protesting against the structural racism that exists in the United States (see a <a href="https://storify.com/Limerick1914/the-prelance-of-the-irish-slaves-mythology">collection of tweets</a> on ‘Irish slaves’, gathered by the author). Furthermore, they used these falsehoods to mock African-American calls for reparations for slavery, stating “my Irish ancestors were the first slaves in America, where are my reparations?” Those that share links to spurious ‘Irish slavery’ articles on social media have also been appending their posts with the hashtags #Ferguson and #NoExcuses. No excuses? This myth of convenience is being utilised by those who are unwilling to accept the truth of their white privilege and the prevalence of an entrenched racism in their societies. There is clearly comfort to be found in denialism. </p><p>The conflation present in both narratives has been abetted by the deliberate use of a limited vocabulary. The inclination to describe these different forms of servitude using the umbrella term “slavery” is a wilful misuse of language. It serves to diminish the reality of the chattel slave system that existed in the New World for over three centuries. It is also a reminder that the popular use of such a simplistic term as ‘modern-day slavery’ can reduce clarity and hinder our collective understanding of both the present and the past.</p><blockquote> <p><em>This piece is based on Liam’s longer essay, </em><span style="font-style: normal;">‘<a href="https://www.academia.edu/9475964/The_Myth_of_Irish_Slaves_in_the_Colonies">The myth of “Irish slaves” in the colonies</a>’.</span></p> </blockquote><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/beyondslavery/joel-quirk-genevieve-lebaron/use-and-abuse-of-history-slavery-and-its-contemporary-leg">The use and abuse of history: slavery and its contemporary legacies</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/beyondslavery/ahmad-greene-hayes/black-archival-pain-blurring-of-black-pasts-and-black-present">Black ‘archival’ pain: the blurring of Black pasts and a Black present</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/beyondslavery/joel-quirk/reparations-are-too-confronting-let%E2%80%99s-talk-about-%27modernday-slavery%27-instea">Reparations are too confronting: let’s talk about &#039;modern-day slavery&#039; instead</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/beyondslavery/kehinde-andrews/confronting-brutal-reality-how-to-teach-legacy-of-transatlantic-slaver">Confronting the brutal reality: how to teach the legacy of transatlantic slavery</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> BeyondSlavery BeyondSlavery Liam Hogan Beyond popular representations of trafficking and slavery Wed, 14 Jan 2015 05:00:00 +0000 Liam Hogan 89516 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Residual causes: Wilberforce and forced labour https://www.opendemocracy.net/beyondslavery/vanessa-pupavac/residual-causes-wilberforce-and-forced-labour <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>William Wilberforce is held up as a hero of the contemporary antislavery movement, but his legacy is tainted by his participation in government repression and his opposition to labour rights.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/555228/shutterstock_81840883.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/555228/shutterstock_81840883.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="617" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>William Wilberforce (1759-1833) engraving from 1833. Georgios Kollidas/Shutterstock. All Rights Reserved.</span></span></span></p><p>Anti-slavery campaigns commonly hold up William Wilberforce as a hero of the antislavery movement. In this vein, <a href="https://www.freetheslaves.net/WilberforceAward">Free The Slaves offers William Wilberforce awards</a> to individuals who have ‘moved a major institution, government, business or large groups of people to take significant action to fight slavery.’ Wilberforce was undoubtedly a key figure in the drafting of the 1807 Abolition Act, and the Antislavery Society <a href="http://www.antislavery.org/2007/campaigners%20wilberforce.htm">favourably compares</a> his and other abolitionists’ activities to common forms of political activism today: </p><blockquote> <p>Wilberforce and his fellow abolitionists introduced a variety of new tactics, which today are common to all campaigning, ranging from holding public meetings to publicising powerful images…</p> </blockquote><p>Here the Antislavery Slavery Society suggests Wilberforce shares common political cause with other progressives past and present. Yet Wilberforce was a much more ambiguous figure in the history of anti-slavery and activity against forced labour than we normally choose to remember.</p><p>Wilberforce was actively involved in government repression in the first two decades of the nineteenth century. Wilberforce helped draft the Sedition legislation and opposed a public inquiry into the Peterloo Massacre, as the historian E.P. Thompson outlines in his seminal <a href="http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/0141976950/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1634&amp;creative=19450&amp;creativeASIN=0141976950&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=opendemocra0e-21"><em>The Making of the English Working Class</em></a>. His Society for the Suppression of Vice and Encouragement of Religion was active in suppressing the nascent working class, the trade union movement, and their demands for political and labour rights. </p><p>Political criticism of Wilberforce is not simply the condescension of history, but was made by contemporaries. The radical writer William Hazlitt scathingly writes of Wilberforce in his 1825 book <em>Spirit of the Age</em>: </p><blockquote> <p>Mr. Wilberforce's humanity will go all lengths that it can with safety and discretion; but it is not to be supposed that it should lose him his seat for Yorkshire, the smile of Majesty, or the countenance of the loyal and pious. He is anxious to do all the good he can without hurting himself or his fair fame…Mr. Wilberforce is far from being a hypocrite; but he is, we think, as fine a specimen of moral equivocation as can be conceived.&nbsp;</p> </blockquote><p>Lord Byron’s poem 1821 <em>Don Juan</em> links Wilberforce to the conservative figure Malthus rather than progressive figures and ironically described the price of slaves being doubled by Wilberforce’s abolitionism: </p><blockquote> <p>Twelve negresses from Nubia brought a price<br />Which the West Indian market scarce would bring;<br />Though Wilberforce, at last, has made it twice<br />What 't was ere Abolition.</p> </blockquote><p>So how do we explain that a figure closely identified with the emancipation of slaves should be at the forefront of suppressing political and civil rights? Wilberforce’s abolitionist philosophy was essentially a spiritual concern for religious salvation, both of a slave-owning society and the slaves themselves. Indeed, Wilberforce advocated gradual emancipation of slaves, fearing immediate emancipation would lead to ‘universal anarchy and distress’. The slaves had to first be educated for (moral) freedom, just as the population domestically had to first be educated before any expansion of the franchise. </p><p>Such was Wilberforce’s concern with spiritual well-being, he feared improved living standards might make the poor more sinful. But Wilberforce’s vision of spiritual improvement inevitably had an apologetic air to a population suffering pauperisation and whose social demands he sought to suppress.</p><p>Furthermore, antislavery has been analysed as a residual progressive cause among the rising middle classes now fearful of radical political change following the French Revolution. The writer William Cobbett observed in 1824:</p><blockquote> <p>Rail they do…against the West Indian slave-holders; but not a word do you ever hear from them against the slave-holders in Lancashire and in Ireland. On the contrary, they are continually telling the people here that they ought to thank the Lord (Cobbett in E.P. Thompson).</p> </blockquote><p>Anti-slavery could give a sense of moral purpose to, and answer the psychic needs of, the progressives otherwise indifferent to the poverty around them because Wilberforce’s welfare concerns were essentially about the spiritual, not the material.</p><p><span>Similar contradictory impulses may be seen in today’s human trafficking campaigns. They too have come to prominence in a period of political retreat, and may represent a residual progressive cause against the demise of labour activism and more radical political movements. Moreover policies against human trafficking may undermine individuals’ freedom of movement and make them more at risk of exploitation. Wilberforce’s politics helped hold back labour rights for decades. If we want to prevent exploitation of migrants, challenging migration controls and supporting freedom of movement is crucial.</span></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/beyondslavery/joel-quirk-julia-o%27connell-davidson/introduction-moving-beyond-popular-representations">Introduction: moving beyond popular representations of trafficking and slavery</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/beyondslavery/kamala-kempadoo/white-man%E2%80%99s-burden-revisited">The white man’s burden revisited</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/beyondslavery/karen-bravo/transatlantic-slavery-and-contemporary-human-trafficking">Trans-Atlantic slavery and contemporary human trafficking </a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> BeyondSlavery BeyondSlavery Vanessa Pupavac Beyond popular representations of trafficking and slavery Tue, 13 Jan 2015 05:00:00 +0000 Vanessa Pupavac 89512 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Introduction: moving beyond popular representations of trafficking and slavery https://www.opendemocracy.net/beyondslavery/joel-quirk-julia-o%27connell-davidson/introduction-moving-beyond-popular-representations <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><a name="0"></a>Beyond Trafficking and Slavery editors introduce their first themed issue, which explores how slavery and trafficking have been represented—by public officials, activists, and numerous others—together with the frequently troubling consequences that these popular representations have had upon policy and practice.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/555228/shutterstock_241962643 (1).jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/555228/shutterstock_241962643 (1).jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="690" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Royce DeGrie/Shutterstock. All Rights Reserved.</span></span></span></p><p>Information and communication are fundamental to political and social activism. Modern activists expend a great deal of time and energy trying to get their message out, using numerous strategies in an effort to attract the interest of the media, governments, corporations, international organisations, and the public at large. Recent work by Clifford Bob and others has shown that these <a href="http://foreignpolicy.com/2009/11/13/merchants-of-morality/">efforts to raise awareness take place within a competitive marketplace</a>, with numerous worthy causes vying for resources, interest and investment. While some causes are able to grab the headlines, many others remain in comparative obscurity. </p><p>‘Human trafficking’ and ‘modern slavery’ have fared well in this fierce competition between causes. Over the last two decades, human trafficking has secured a remarkable level of both popular and official recognition, resulting in a state of affairs where most people now have at least a passing familiarity with this general topic. While ‘modern-day abolitionists’ routinely lament how little the general public knows about their cause, many campaigners working on other issues would count themselves lucky if they secured even a fraction of the publicity and investment that trafficking now receives. This recent success is not simply because trafficking is ‘more deserving’ or ‘more urgent’. It can instead be chiefly traced to the strong popular appeal of representations of human trafficking as an exceptional problem involving ‘innocent’ victims and rapacious villains, along with the numerous ways in which the issue of trafficking has helped to advance the strategic interests of governments seeking to control, discipline, and/or limit the mobility of certain populations.</p><p>The recent political success of anti-trafficking has come at a considerable price. In order to <a href="http://www.lauraagustin.com/becoming-aware-of-awareness-raising-as-anti-trafficking-tactic">help get their message out</a>, activists and officials have repeatedly turned to a range of simplistic and misleading images, dubious ‘statistics’, and self-serving narratives. Even the history of slavery and abolition has been selectively mined to support contemporary causes, while more challenging questions regarding the limitations of anti-slavery activism and <a href="http://prospect.org/article/blacklivesmatter-till-they-dont-slaverys-lasting-legacy">the enduring legacies of historical slave systems</a> remain neglected. Although most people have now heard about human trafficking as a form of modern slavery, they frequently have a very limited understanding regarding the specific issues at stake. Much of what people think they know about trafficking and slavery is inaccurate, incomplete or unfounded. </p><p>Take, by way of example, the popular genre of ‘global facts and figures’ concerning trafficking and slavery. According to countless speeches, books and media reports, i) <a href="https://www.freetheslaves.net/page.aspx?pid=301">there are more slaves now than at any point in human history</a>; ii) <a href="http://www.stopthetraffik.org/the-scale-of-human-traffiking">human trafficking is one of the fastest growing criminal industries in the world</a>, and; iii) <a href="https://www.unglobalcompact.org/docs/issues_doc/labour/Forced_labour/HUMAN_TRAFFICKING_-_BACKGROUND_BRIEFING_NOTE_-_final.pdf">human trafficking has become the third largest global criminal industry</a>, behind only guns and drugs, <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/poverty-matters/2013/jul/15/slavery-industry-money-human-trafficking">generating 32 billion US dollars annually</a>. Since the main attraction of these ‘facts’ stems from their value as advocacy tools, there has been a widespread reluctance to ask how they have been calculated, and whether or not they are true. </p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/555228/mashup_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/555228/mashup_0.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="308" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Montage by BTS. Images from endslaveryandtrafficking.org and satuvox.com. Fair use.</span></span></span></p><p>However much various activists and organisations might proclaim otherwise, there is currently no sound methodological basis for constructing a global estimate of slavery or trafficking today. And since we don’t have a reliable baseline or sampling frame, we also have no reasonable basis for concluding that things are rapidly increasing globally. Most ‘statistics’ associated with trafficking and slavery are little more than blind stabs in the dark, with the further complication that those responsible for making up the numbers usually have a vested interest in coming to the highest possible total. Whenever comparisons take place (as, for instance, with guns and drugs), their ultimate goal is to make the problem of human trafficking and slavery as large as possible. Much the same story applies when it comes to comparisons between past and present. Modern activists use an expansive definition of ‘slavery’ when looking for contemporary slaves, yet restrict their understanding of slavery in the past to legal slavery. If many definitions of slavery used today were projected backwards through time, then huge numbers of people would need to be reclassified as slaves. </p><p>Unfounded, misleading and self-serving representations of trafficking and slavery have also had far-reaching consequences at the level of policy and practice. Several brief examples from a much longer list can be offered here. Thanks to an often<a href="http://bitchmagazine.org/article/trade-secrets"> voyeuristic interest in commercial sexual abuse</a>, much less interest has been directed towards ‘unsexy’ problems and practices. Thanks to <a href="http://www.law.fordham.edu/newsroom/27570.htm">unrealistic models</a> of ‘innocent victimhood’, individuals with more complicated personal stories have been deemed unworthy of assistance, despite the fact that they have been exploited and abused. Thanks to the construction of migration as a problem and threat, policy responses have focused upon <a href="http://pi.library.yorku.ca/ojs/index.php/refuge/article/viewFile/21302/19973">telling migrants to ‘stay at home’</a>, irrespective of the positive possibilities of mobility and the potential problems of ‘home’. Thanks to the popularity of ‘<a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/beyondslavery/joel-quirk-annie-bunting/politics-of-exception-bipartisan-appeal-of-human-trafficking">slavery as exception’</a>, global patterns of systemic abuse, exploitation and discrimination and have been routinely <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/beyondslavery/neil-howard/slavery-and-trafficking-beyond-hollow-call">dispatched to the margins</a> of <a href="http://compasoxfordblog.co.uk/2013/05/stuck-in-traffic-how-helpful-is-the-trafficking-framework/">political conversations</a>. Thanks to the depiction of trafficking victims as ‘exotic outsiders’ <a href="http://marijkevonk.com/the-myth-of-trafficking/">in need of rescue</a> and salvation, there has been an uncritical return to some of the worst tropes of the <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/beyondslavery/siobh%C3%A1n-mcgrath-fabiola-mieres/mapping-politics-of-national-rankings-in-movement-again">colonial ‘civilizing mission’</a>, where <a href="http://www.counterpunch.org/2012/01/25/the-soft-side-of-imperialism/">paternalistic intervention by ‘superior’ Westerners is justified</a> in order to ‘save’ non-Western supplicants. </p><p>Many of these popular representations of slavery and trafficking have proved to be remarkably resistant to challenge and critique. Most of the issues highlighted above were first identified in the late 1990s—if not before—and have been repeatedly challenged in the decades that have followed. Despite this, the same representations and formulas continue to be widely reproduced. There is now, for example, an extensive literature documenting the <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/beyondslavery/ronald-weitzer/miscounting-human-trafficking-and-slavery">limitations</a> of high profile ‘<a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/anne-gallagher/global-slavery-index-seduction-and-obfuscation">fact and figures</a>’, yet dubious ‘statistics’ persist. Similarly, <a href="http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0028363">researchers have demonstrated</a> that <a href="http://www.gaatw.org/publications/WhatstheCostofaRumour.11.15.2011.pdf">major sporting events</a>, such as <a href="http://www.sxpolitics.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/observatory_prostitution_world0cupreport_compressed_pdf.pdf">World Cups</a> and <a href="http://www.dallasobserver.com/2011-03-03/news/super-bowl-prostitution-100-000-hookers-didn-t-show-but-america-s-latest-political-scam-did/">Superbowls</a>, do not appear to generate major spikes in the local prevalence of human trafficking, yet each <a href="http://www.spiked-online.com/newsite/article/8324#.VKsPtL4dJSU">new major sporting event</a> nonetheless generates <a href="http://www.riverfronttimes.com/2012-02-02/news/super-bowl-prostitution-hoax-urban-legend-indianapolis/">a new round of sensationalist</a> reports regarding the imminent threat of a massive increase in trafficking and prostitution. </p><p>This recurring pattern points to a fundamental challenge. There are numerous actors and institutions in anti-trafficking and anti-slavery circles who are heavily invested in upholding and reproducing these flawed representations and associated policy responses. This is important, because their increasingly defensive resistance to alternative voices and approaches constitutes one of the principle obstacles to developing and disseminating better understandings of the diverse problems and issues at stake, and working towards more effective strategies, interventions, and frames of reference. Popular representations of trafficking and slavery have too often hurt—rather than helped—efforts to both understand and combat global exploitation, discrimination and vulnerability.</p><p>We are publishig two separate batches of articles exploring popular representations of slavery and trafficking over the course of January. Our first batch of articles came out 12 January. It began with a major contribution from <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/beyondslavery/kamala-kempadoo/white-man%E2%80%99s-burden-revisited">Kamala Kempadoo</a>, who considered how popular representations of trafficking and modern slavery can be traced to older stories about the ‘white man’s burden’. This is the first of several contributions that take up historical themes and flag the on-going significance of race in ‘modern slavery’ despite new abolitionists’ insistence that it is a ‘colour blind’ phenomenon. We also heard from <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/beyondslavery/ben-rogaly/immigration-politics-slavery-talk-case-for-class-perspective">Ben Rogaly</a>, who considered how and why representations of ‘forced labour’ have likewise created an ‘exceptional’ problem, with a singular focus on migrants sidestepping contentious questions regarding capitalism and class.</p><p><a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/beyondslavery/vanessa-pupavac/residual-causes-wilberforce-and-forced-labour">Vanessa Pupavac</a> then challenged simplistic celebrations of the hero of the original abolitionist movement, William Wilberforce. She raised difficult questions about the construction of slavery as a problem that can be detached from more general demands for labour rights and freedom of movement. <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/beyondslavery/liam-hogan/%E2%80%98irish-slaves%E2%80%99-convenient-myth">Liam Hogan</a> explored the contemporary political agendas associated with the historical mythology of Irish indentured servants as ‘white slaves’, while <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/beyondslavery/james-esson/modern-slavery-child-trafficking-and-rise-of-west-african-football-academi">James Esson</a> examined the representations and realities of Ghanaian youth football players, who have been reported as ‘victims’ of ‘child trafficking’.&nbsp; We ended the first tranche with a piece from <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/beyondslavery/robbie-shilliam/rastafari-and-reparation-time">Robbie Shilliam</a>, who contrasted the historical amnesia of the ‘new slavery’ with parallel campaigns seeking reparations for the history and legacies of legal slavery.</p><p>Our second batch of articles starts today, 26 January. It begins with a contribution from <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/beyondslavery/sally-engle-merry/how-big-is-trafficking-problem-mysteries-of-quantification">Sally Engle Merry</a>, who focuses upon the preoccupations and technologies associated with quantification and ranking, which have been a powerful vehicle for the US government to promote their trafficking agenda. We also lead off with <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/beyondslavery/svati-shah/from-hiv-to-trafficking-shifting-frames-for-sex-work-in-india">Svati Shah</a>, whose research into sex work and migration in Mumbai complicates popular notions of young women as ‘victims of tradition’. Tomorrow we hear from Jennifer Musto, who considers how representations of ‘domestic child trafficking’ have paved the way for incarceration and surveillance as official ‘solutions’.&nbsp;Later in the week, we focus upon popular representations of ‘innocence’, which routinely reduce otherwise autonomous agents into passive victims in need of rescue.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/555228/trade of innocents.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_medium/wysiwyg_imageupload/555228/trade of innocents.jpg" alt="" title="" width="240" height="347" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_medium" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>From Christian Film Database. Fair Use.</span></span></span></p><p>Childhood has recently come to be widely imagined as a state of innocence, so children are frequently held to embody ‘true’ victimhood. On Wednesday we feature two articles that critique such tropes in anti-trafficking films and books.<span>&nbsp;Kerwin Kaye explores how film producers seeking an audience have turned to sensationalism, sexual voyeurism, and narratives of rescue and damnation in his reviews of </span><em>Trade</em><span> and </span><em>Holly.</em><span>&nbsp;Bridget Anderson, meanwhile, finds a common defense of neoliberal agendas in two books that, at first blush, approaching trafficking from very different angles. Thursday finds Ingrid Palmary exploring the politics of competing representations of trafficking and prostitution within South Africa, and we wrap up the week with Joel Quirk calling into question the popular rhetoric of a singular and cohesive global cause: ending slavery today.</span></p><p><span></span><span>Once this popular rhetoric is deflated, it quickly becomes evident that there is not one global anti-trafficking or anti-slavery movement, but many actors and activists with competing agendas and priorities.</span></p> BeyondSlavery BeyondSlavery Julia O'Connell Davidson Joel Quirk Beyond popular representations of trafficking and slavery Sun, 11 Jan 2015 22:00:00 +0000 Joel Quirk and Julia O'Connell Davidson 89439 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Immigration politics, slavery talk: the case for a class perspective https://www.opendemocracy.net/beyondslavery/ben-rogaly/immigration-politics-slavery-talk-case-for-class-perspective <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The UK Modern Slavery Bill, and UK politicians’ obsession with immigration, risk undermining political moves to greater solidarity among all those—migrant and non-migrant—experiencing abuse or unfreedom in their employment.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/555228/4927012.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/555228/4927012.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Passport control at Heathrow's Terminal 2. Amer Ghazzal/Demotix. All Rights Reserved.</span></span></span></p><p>Entrapment, threats of violence against workers, non-payment of wages and debt-bondage are all alive and well, not only on <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/dec/23/qatar-nepal-workers-world-cup-2022-death-toll-doha">Qatar’s construction sites</a> but in the <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/dec/18/latvians-guilty-illegal-gangmaster-east-anglia-valujevs-mezals">vegetable fields of Lincolnshire</a>. The UK’s <a href="http://services.parliament.uk/bills/2014-15/modernslavery.html">Modern Slavery Bill</a>, now before parliament, attempts to address such extreme levels of abuse by making it an offence to “[hold] another person in slavery or servitude”, and to “[require them] to perform forced labour.” Moveover, as the UK’s May 2015 General Election draws closer, the leader of the Labour Party Ed Miliband used the context of <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-30474521">a speech on immigration control</a> to promise to “end the epidemic of exploitation” and to “stop people’s living standards being undermined by scandalous undercutting.”.</p><p>On the face of it these are all important initiatives. Yet, the conflation of worker abuse, slavery, and trafficking in the Modern Slavery Bill may move public attention away from the range of ways in which capitalism itself creates, perpetuates, and relies on forms of unfree labour. As Bridget Anderson and I argued in a <a href="http://www.ituc-csi.org/IMG/pdf/Forced_labour_in_UK_12_2009.pdf">report</a> for the Trades Union Congress (TUC) a decade ago, connecting forced labour/slavery with trafficking/breaking of immigration law can make the unfreedom of workers seem a residual issue, thereby reducing scrutiny of how, or if, employment law is enforced in capitalist work-places. Instead forced labour and slavery become part of the immigration control agenda; indeed in some cases ‘victims’ of trafficking become viewed as perpetrators of immigration-related offences.</p><p>The same year that the TUC report was published, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) brought out a landmark <a href="http://www.ilo.org/global/publications/books/WCMS_081882/lang--en/index.htm">report</a> on forced labour. The latter omitted any analysis of capitalism and, in particular, of the connections between specific forms of capitalism and unfree labour relations. In a critique of this report, I <a href="http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/51909">argued</a> that the first steps in such an analysis would be to differentiate between the interests of individual businesses and those of capital more generally, as well as the often contradictory agendas of large-scale, monopoly capital and small-scale capital. Such an analysis must also lay plain the relations between capital and the state.</p><p>The ILO report missed an opportunity to advocate against those economic relations that produce unfree labour because it implicitly denied the interrelation of government, intergovernmental and private corporate actions. In the case of employment in the food sector, this included ignoring the conflictive relations between differently positioned businesses in the supply chain, <a href="http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/11584/">for example between large retailers and individual small-scale producer/employers</a>. </p><p>A further major problem with the ILO report was its resort to a discourse of victimhood—<a href="http://societyandspace.com/2014/11/28/mapping-the-politics-of-national-rankings-in-the-movement-against-modern-slavery">found in the rhetoric of many campaigners against slavery and trafficking today</a>, as well as in the Modern Slavery Bill—making for unjustified assumptions about the agency of migrant workers themselves. Paid work carried out by migrant workers was not analysed in relation to the unpaid reproductive work <a href="http://coa.sagepub.com/content/26/1/61.abstract">on which it relied</a>, nor did the report seek to understand recruitment or workplace bargaining, co-operation or conflict from the perspective of individual workers. As a result policy prescriptions emerged that did not reflect or give space to the interests migrant workers may have had, say, in keeping hold of a short-term tie to a particular employer, nor to the apparently small but often meaningful ways in which workplace arrangements may have been subject to continual (re)negotiation by workers.</p><p>Ed Miliband’s emphasis on ‘scandalous undercutting’ is not so much aimed at improving employment conditions for all workers as at demonstrating that the Labour Party can sound tough on immigration. The effect, no doubt unintended, may be to stigmatise migrant workers themselves, rather than the companies that are responsible for widespread employment abuse. It is also likely to deflect attention away from the state’s complicity in producing <a href="http://phg.sagepub.com/content/early/2014/12/05/0309132514548303">hyper-precarious lives</a> through its hierarchy of immigration-linked socio-legal statuses, a system which it—like Qatar, though in different ways—has proved reluctant to reform. Both states have sought to curtail certain workers’ freedoms in the labour market, Qatar through its insistence that workers see out their contracts with the same employer, and the UK through its <a href="http://www.forcedlabour.org/">refusal since 2012</a> to allow international domestic workers to switch employers.</p><p><span>Instead of using a discourse that singles out international migrant workers, which only adds to existing divisions within workforces, those seeking to fight abusive employment relations and harsh working conditions should work to enhance solidarity among workers of different ethno-national heritages, migration histories and socio-legal statuses. A more class-based approach, emphasizing unity rather than division among dispossessed people—both migrant and non-migrant—is the best chance of directing public attention back to addressing the causes of unfree labour.</span></p> BeyondSlavery BeyondSlavery uk Ben Rogaly Beyond popular representations of trafficking and slavery Sun, 11 Jan 2015 22:00:00 +0000 Ben Rogaly 89437 at https://www.opendemocracy.net The white man’s burden revisited https://www.opendemocracy.net/beyondslavery/kamala-kempadoo/white-man%E2%80%99s-burden-revisited <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The war on trafficking is a contemporary imperialist move that involves ‘the West’ saving ‘the rest’, appearing as a reconfigured version of the ‘white man’s burden.’ &nbsp;Modern-day slavery abolitionism, abolitionist feminism, and celebrity humanitarianism together make up this renewed imperialism.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/555228/shutterstock_231655900.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/555228/shutterstock_231655900.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="378" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>The 1841 Anti-Slavery Society Convention by Benjamin Robert Haydon. AISA-Everett/Shutterstock. All Rights Reserved.</span></span></span></p><p>In the early 1990s the debate on human trafficking was restricted to a handful of feminists and revolved around establishing ‘the trafficking of women’ as a case of labour migration or one of ‘female sexual slavery.’ Two decades later, the topic has become a household word and involves a more complicated debate.&nbsp; Within this proliferation of attention on trafficking and slavery, a convergence among some of the most vocal and visible campaigns is discernible, looking disturbingly like a reconfigured ‘white man’s burden.’</p><p>The ‘burden’ has at least two dimensions. One is that the dominant anti-trafficking and anti-slavery campaigns are primarily inspired by, located in, and directed from within racialised ‘developed’ centres of the world. The antislavery movement, for example, is dominated by white middle-class or elite men—in the US, Britain and Australia—who founded the majority of international organisations and populate executive boards and directorships, with the resources and cultural capital to produce books, news items, and films on the subject. People of color and non-westerners are positioned in their campaigns as objects for rescue and education, modern-day ‘slaveholders,’ or ‘survivor leaders.’</p><p>With unquestioned obligation and entitlement to intervene, and convinced of their righteousness, modern anti-slavery men feel free to roam the earth saving poor people. Histories of earlier abolitionist movements as steeped in white guilt, fear of black violence, distrust of black men, paternalism, conservative Christian values, and an uncomfortable politic between whites and blacks over social equality, are not addressed. Instead the campaigns feature the daring white knight morally obligated to save the world—especially Asia and Africa—affirming white masculinity as powerful and heroic.</p><p>Abolitionist feminism extends this ‘burden’ to white middle-class and elite women. Rooted in the 19th century white slavery discourse that spawned maternal feminist charitable rescue work, the movement locates its moral obligation and civic responsibility in the rescue of poor ’prostituted’ women and children (victims) from male privilege, power, and lust (sex trafficking). It reproduces a colonial maternalism in relation to the impoverished non-western world, while reconfirming the white western middle-class woman as benevolent. The uncomfortable politic between white radical feminism and ‘third world,’ black and postcolonial feminisms is pushed aside in favour of an essentialising notion of global victimized womanhood.</p><p>Both types of abolitionist politics inform celebrity humanitarian campaigns against trafficking, starring Demi Moore, Emma Thompson, Mira Sorvino and more. Celebrity humanitarianism is broadcast widely—hearts are in the right place, pockets deep, and star status focuses attention on a problem believed to be one of the worlds’ most heinous. Yet as <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/beyondslavery/dina-haynes/when-human-trafficking-becomes-cause-celebre">Dina Haynes points out</a>, “their often ill-informed characterisations of the problem and its potential solutions lead to unintended consequences, misallocated funds, and misdirected victim services” even while they are designated “heroes.” </p><p>Accolades for such anti-trafficking and antislavery work include a Pulitzer and an Emmy, honorary doctorates, and awards for human rights and peace work. Campaigners in the Global North applaud and celebrate each other. White privilege rules.</p><p>Second, while global inequality in wealth is acknowledged as the economic context within which trafficking and slavery occurs, global capitalism is not targeted for eradication. Corrupt and greedy individuals, ‘bad’ corporations that violate labour laws, and isolated national governments that oppose ‘the West’ (think Cuba, South Korea, Syria, Venezuela, Zimbabwe, etc.), become the problem. Campaigners work to bring these ‘rogues’ into compliance with hegemonic (western, capitalist) standards and values.</p><p>The resulting regulations produce more criminalisation of greater areas of human life, leaving the source of inequality intact. As <a href="http://youtu.be/niZPU4JkHBA">one American journalist puts it</a>, “more capitalism is needed to bring more people out of poverty, and [it] can also be the most effective tool to bring people out of slavery.” Even so, the ‘big bang approach’—the injection of large sums into poor areas or communities by philanthropists such as Bill Gates or Jeffrey Sachs—is not a workable solution. Charity is not sustainable economic development. But this work propels CEOs into the limelight and alleviates the guilt of those whose grotesque wealth was accumulated off the sweat and blood of millions of others. By naturalising neoliberal capitalism as “the only game in town,” as Ilan Kapoor puts it in <em><a href="http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/0415783399/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1634&amp;creative=19450&amp;creativeASIN=0415783399&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=opendemocra0e-21">Celebrity Humanitarianism: The Ideology of Global Charity</a></em>, the ‘white man’s burden’ not only masks but depoliticizes the workings of the global economy.</p><p>In sum, modern-day slavery abolitionism, abolitionist feminisms and celebrity humanitarianism combine to create a neoliberal white chivalrous crusade across the world, born of a moral sense of goodness, with the ‘developing’ Global South and East as the dumping grounds for, what Barbara Heron calls in <em><a href="http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/1554580013/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1634&amp;creative=19450&amp;creativeASIN=1554580013&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=opendemocra0e-21">Desire for Development</a>,</em> “helping imperatives” involving rescue and charity. Suffering bodies are captured, rehabilitated and returned home (preferably with a photo shoot of smiling brown or black children as proof). The fantasy of help legitimises the endeavours as altruistic and humanitarian, obscuring the reliance on and reproduction of, racial knowledge about the Other. This knowledge settles around the historical tropes of the hopeless, impoverished victim incapable of attending to their own needs, and of the benevolent, civilizing white subject who must bear the burden of intervening in the Global South.&nbsp; With no effect on the causes of the problem and, indeed, advocating more neoliberal regulation and stronger corporate capitalism, imperialism is given a new lease of life.</p><blockquote> <p><em>This piece is adapted from a forthcoming article in the</em> <span>Journal of Human Trafficking</span>.</p> </blockquote> BeyondSlavery BeyondSlavery Kamala Kempadoo Beyond popular representations of trafficking and slavery Sun, 11 Jan 2015 22:00:00 +0000 Kamala Kempadoo 89432 at https://www.opendemocracy.net