From Human Trafficking to Human Rights: Reframing Contemporary Slavery

From Human Trafficking to Human Rights: Reframing Contemporary Slavery

From Human Trafficking to Human Rights: Reframing Contemporary Slavery

From Human Trafficking to Human Rights: Reframing Contemporary Slavery

Synopsis

Over the last decade, public, political, and scholarly attention has focused on human trafficking and contemporary forms of slavery. Yet as human rights scholars Alison Brysk and Austin Choi-Fitzpatrick argue, most current work tends to be more descriptive and focused on trafficking for sexual exploitation.

In From Human Trafficking to Human Rights, Brysk, Choi-Fitzpatrick, and a cast of experts demonstrate that it is time to recognize human trafficking as more a matter of human rights and social justice, rooted in larger structural issues relating to the global economy, human security, U.S. foreign policy, and labor and gender relations. Such reframing involves overcoming several of the most difficult barriers to the development of human rights discourse: women's rights as human rights, labor rights as a confluence of structure and agency, the interdependence of migration and discrimination, the ideological and policy hegemony of the United States in setting the terms of debate, and a politics of global justice and governance.

Throughout this volume, the argument is clear: a deep human rights approach can improve analysis and response by recovering human rights principles that match protection with empowerment and recognize the interdependence of social rights and personal freedoms. Together, contributors to the volume conclude that rethinking trafficking requires moving our orientation from sex to slavery, from prostitution to power relations, and from rescue to rights. On the basis of this argument, From Human Trafficking to Human Rights offers concrete policy approaches to improve the global response necessary to end slavery responsibly.

Excerpt

Alison Brysk and Austin Choi-Fitzpatrick

Over the last decade, the problem of modern slavery has moved from being a marginal concern to a mainstream issue, with significant advances in levels of public awareness, official engagement, and specialized research. Trafficking in persons for the purposes of forced prostitution has been the primary focal point of this renewed interest in questions of human bondage. From 1865 through 1990 slavery suffered from issue depletion, only to be rediscovered as human trafficking and successfully adopted as a cause célèbre. Scholars, activists, policy makers, and the general public have found the plight of millions to be a departure point for larger conversations about globalization, prostitution, and a host of other issues. While all of this attention is critical, we believe too much of this conversation has been superficial, incomplete, or distorted—leading to a tragically inadequate response. The contributions in this volume stem from a frustration with the status quo understanding of smuggling and outmoded debates around the legalization of prostitution. Our research has shown us new dimensions of the issue that give us the opportunity to push the discourse into original, progressive analysis of rights, slavery, power, and emancipation. Our aim is to move the conversation from sex to slavery, from prostitution to power, and from rescue to rights.

Understanding the Problem

Many advocacy groups cite figures of more than 27 million people worldwide exploited in contemporary forms of slavery, with several million of . . .

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