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Hmm. Interesting synchronicity...

I singed up for this group earlier today and later decided to check out On the Issues, an old feminist mag which is now publishing online. Turns out their current issue is on Feminism and Prostitution, with some articles on trafficking.

Mostly critical of anti-trafficking efforts, some from a Global South perspective, others not, and some of the latter outright romanticizing what prostitution looks like for most women (thinking here of the British historian who gives an airbrushed account of Greco-Roman brothels, where in reality the majority of women were slaves, often war captives, under brutal conditions). Anyhow, i thought people might be interested in taking a look and perhaps commenting.

There was one link i hadn't seen before, maybe people are famiiiar with it:

Max Dashu
Suppressed Histories Archives

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Thanks for the reference to I keep a close eye on this debate but I had not seen that publication before. Most of the articles there were pretty good and less one sided than I am used to seeing.

Yes thanks for the link, there are interesting articles there.

I only see one common mistake made in the trafficking article which I believe is dangerous, which is the conflation of sex work carried out voluntarily by sex workers with sex work carried out involuntarily by trafficked women. Whereas the voluntary nature of any work, when faced with economic destitution, restrictions and gender discrimination in the labour market, is surely subject to debate, there is nonetheless a fundamental difference between slavery and non-slavery in sex work, I believe. Some feminist discourses, namely abolitionists, would disagree.

In this article:, for example, which contains also good and interesting information, sex work is suddenly conflated with trafficking under the heading 'demand'. Firstly, there is no evidence to suggest that trafficking is triggered or increased by 'demand', ie the fact that there are men who buy sexual services. No empirical research has been done in the area, which abolitionists also admit.

Personally I would reason that there is a demand for cheap labour and exploited (submissive, etc) and specific types of labour (women, men, from particular ethnic backgrounds) and of course a demand in sexual services. But demand on its own does not create trafficking, but it is made possible by the lack of labour rights implementation, the lack of criminal prosecution of traffickers and compensation for its victims, plus strict immigration controls forcing migrants into illegality, making them even more vulnerable. This, together with the main reasons for trafficking, which is the profits that can be made with exploited labour, lie at the heart of trafficking I believe.

Secondly, sex workers are not synonymous with trafficked persons. Trafficked women are often forced into the sex industry, but they are also forced into domestic work, into the garment sector, into begging, and men are being trafficked into the agricultural and construction sector. In short, trafficking is not synonymous with sex work and those debates and claims of causal relationships should be carefully considered, as they can have disastrous policy consequences, as another article in the journal on the criminalisation of sex work in Cambodia shows (not that the author of the trafficking article supports the criminalisation of sex workers, but those conflations can lead to such policy outcomes).

I am actually just writing this because Max Dashu asked whether people wanted to comment, and I happen to have looked at many demand reports recently. An interesting one is: Trafficking – a Demand led Problem? A Multi-Country Pilot Study (

Warm greetings,

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