The Politics of Trafficking: The First International Movement to Combat the Sexual Exploitation of Women

The Politics of Trafficking: The First International Movement to Combat the Sexual Exploitation of Women

The Politics of Trafficking: The First International Movement to Combat the Sexual Exploitation of Women

The Politics of Trafficking: The First International Movement to Combat the Sexual Exploitation of Women

Synopsis

Sex trafficking is not a recent phenomenon. Over 100 years ago, the first international traffic in women for prostitution emerged, prompting a worldwide effort to combat it. The Politics of Trafficking provides a unique look at the history of that first anti-trafficking movement, illuminating the role gender, sexuality, and national interests play in international politics.

Initially conceived as a global humanitarian effort to protect women from sexual exploitation, the movement's feminist-inspired vision failed to achieve its universal goal and gradually gave way to nationalist concerns over "undesirable" migrants and state control over women themselves. Addressing an issue that is still of great concern today, this book sheds light on the ability of international non-governmental organizations to challenge state power, the motivations for state involvement in humanitarian issues pertaining to women, and the importance of gender and sexuality to state officials engaged in nation building.

Excerpt

When I first became interested in the topic of trafficking, very little academic research had been done, and what research existed was dominated by an often vitriolic feminist debate over the normalization and legalization of prostitution. This literature often treated trafficking as a discursive construction or moral panic about Prostitution, and drew broad conclusions about the repressive motivations of anti-trafficking reformers. Seeking to learn more about trafficking, I began to peruse the historical literature on Prostitution, which, although small, provided a much richer, more complicated picture of the social organization of Prostitution and the first anti-trafficking movement. It seemed important to me to situate trafficking for Prostitution as a process intertwined with globalization and nation-state development, to look at the global and comparative reach of anti-trafficking activities, examining the rise of migratory Prostitution, the development of the international anti-trafficking movement, and the specific implementation of anti-trafficking efforts within countries and empires.

Trafficking is now rapidly developing into a topic of widespread interdisciplinary interest, drawing scholars from law, political science, criminal justice, sociology, and women's studies. Although many of these scholars note the existence of the earlier anti-trafficking movement, historians have not yet fully documented it, and most scholars in other disciplines have overlooked the potential insights that an analysis of the movement could provide. Among other things, for sociologists, political scientists, and those interested in women's studies, a study of early anti-trafficking efforts could furnish information on the dynamics of international social movements and the origins of humanitarianism . . .

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