In the past two decades human trafficking has been increasingly termed ‘modern slavery’ and anti-trafficking work likened to nineteenth century efforts to abolish slavery. NGOs, politicians and the media make heavy use of visual tropes alluding to slavery and the transatlantic slave trade, and it is often said that human trafficking is ‘modern slavery’. But are such historical references really warranted?
This issue of the Anti-Trafficking Review explores some of the histories that created and continue to shape the phenomena discussed under the rubric of human trafficking, and the contemporary discourse of trafficking itself. It highlights the ways in which simplistic analogies between wrongs past and present can hamper, rather than facilitate, efforts to secure rights and protections in the contemporary moment. Contributions from Africa, Europe and the Americas focus on the race politics of ‘modern slavery’ campaigns, the history of indentured and ‘coolie’ labour, the legacies of anti-white slavery legislation and the restrictions on labour migration that can exacerbate human trafficking. Ultimately, they reveal that more critical engagement with the histories of transatlantic slavery, colonialism and their afterlives can teach us a great deal about the forms of violence, injustice and oppression that are tolerated today in the dominant liberal world order.
Despite increasing interest in human trafficking and related exploitation, a great deal of anti-trafficking work still appears to be based on assumptions that are not well-proven or adequately questioned. Policy formations, advocacy campaigns, concrete interventions and popular understandings of trafficking have all been accused of making exaggerated claims and resting on thin, if any, evidence. There is an almost obsessive desire to know the scale, proportion, size, major sectors and geographical concentrations of human trafficking. Similarly, the monitoring and evaluation of interventions prioritise numbers of people reached rather than any significant change in knowledge or behaviour. This focus on quantification has come at the expense of quality and a true understanding of the lives of the migrants and trafficked persons it is supposed to benefit.
This issue of the Anti-Trafficking Review explores the role of evidence, research and data in anti-trafficking work and how they influence our understanding of the issue and responses to it. Contributors examine the evidence used—or rejected—in the formation of national anti-trafficking policies in Northern Ireland, Canada and India, as well as the role of statistics, and monitoring and evaluation of anti-trafficking interventions. In the debate section, four authors take turn defending or rejecting the proposition 'Global Trafficking Prevalence Data Advances the Fight against Trafficking in Persons'.
Guest Editors: Rutvica Andrijasevic and Nicola Mai
Representations of human trafficking, forced labour and ‘modern slavery’ are pervasive within media, policymaking, and humanitarian interventions and campaigns. This issue of the Anti-Trafficking Review explores the ways in which some representations erase the complexity in the life trajectories of people who have experienced trafficking, as well as those who are migrants, women, sex workers and others labelled as victims or ‘at-risk’ of trafficking.
Contributions in this issue examine visual material and narratives through which trafficking and its victims are represented in film, TV, newspapers and public discourse. The articles investigate representations in Australia, Cambodia, Nigeria, Serbia, Denmark, UK, and USA. Ultimately, this special issue highlights the fact that stereotypical trafficking representations conveniently distract the global public from their increasing and shared day-to-day exploitability as workers because of the systematic erosion of labour rights globally. Crucially, the issue also discusses positive alternatives and how to represent trafficking differently.
Guest Editor: Anne T Gallagher
Prosecuting human trafficking is widely viewed as one of the main pillars of an effective national response to trafficking. But worldwide, the number of prosecutions for trafficking and related exploitation remains stubbornly low, especially when compared to the generally accepted size of the problem. Very few traffickers are ever brought to justice and the criminal justice system rarely operates to benefit those who have been trafficked.
Issue 6 of the Anti-Trafficking Review analyses human trafficking prosecutions in different regions of the world and from a range of different perspectives. With five themed articles focusing on Russia, the United States, the Balkans and Western Europe, the issue provides important insights into the practical and policy issues surrounding human trafficking prosecutions.
Guest Editors: Nicola Piper and Marie Segrave
Human trafficking is now associated, and sometimes used interchangeably, with slavery and forced labour. As this issue highlights, this shift in how we use these terms has real consequences in terms of legal and policy responses to exploitation. Authors - both academics and practitioners - review how the global community is addressing forced labour and trafficking. In 2014 governments across the globe committed to combat forced labour through a new international agreement, the ILO Forced Labour Protocol. Assessing recent efforts and discourse, the thematic issue looks at unionsstruggling to champion the protection of migrants' labour rights, and at governments fighting legal battles with corporations over enactment of supply chain disclosure laws. At the same time, authors show how regressive policies, such as the Kafala system of 'tied' visas for lower paid workers, are eroding these rights. This issue features short debate pieces which respond to the question: Should we distinguish between forced labour, trafficking and slavery?
Guest Editor: Jacqueline Bhabha
2015 marks the 15th anniversary of the UN Protocol to Prevent, Suppress, and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children. Is this a time to celebrate progress or has the Protocol caused more problems than it has solved? What changes are taking place on the ground, after 15 years of building anti-trafficking into government, NGO and INGO programming? How do those who negotiated the Protocol view it now? What aspects of the Protocol’s definition of trafficking continue to be problematic or controversial? As well as reviewing legal frameworks around trafficking and related human rights abuses, this issue examines how the Protocol can be more useful in the decades ahead to people who are trafficked, as well as to women, migrants and workers who are also affected by anti-trafficking policy.
Guest Editor: Mike Dottridge
Issue 3 of the Anti-Trafficking Review focuses on money trails in the anti-trafficking sector, and is the first of its kind as to date there has been no research on how much is spent combating the human rights abuses that amount to human trafficking. This themed issue looks at money trails that reveal how anti-trafficking money has changed the world for the better or for worse.
Trafficked persons do not always benefit from money flows aimed in their direction, or indeed may suffer as a result of anti-trafficking spending. In addition, politics behind anti-trafficking money abound, and recipient organisations wonder whether they should take ‘tied’ funds or funds with ideological, geographical or other restrictions. In recent years governments have rushed to spend money on a range of poorly designed initiatives in the hope of avoiding or moving out of a low ranking in the US government's yearly Trafficking in Persons Report.
Guest Editor: Sverre Molland
What should be the role for border controls in anti-trafficking responses, if there should be one at all? Heightened border security is increasing risks in the migration process. Many people decide that despite barriers and risks they must cross a border for survival, either in terms of economics or safety. In many cases, at border crossings, it is not possible for practitioners to tell if people are being strictly trafficked or whether they fall in another migration category, yet the risks created by border systems and the violations experienced by individuals at borders are not to be left out of conversations on trafficking and of migrants’ rights more broadly.
The second issue of the Anti-Trafficking Review includes eight peer-reviewed articles on how anti-trafficking measures play out in border zones.
Guest Editor: Anne Gallagher
The ‘anti-trafficking industry’ has become big business. It has grown alongside an accountability vacuum, which has meant a growth in opportunities for intervention in this field has not translated into increased opportunities for trafficked or affected persons to voice their views or concerns on the way in which such interventions are implemented. Further it remains unclear if many of the anti-trafficking initiatives of the previous decade have had an impact on decreasing trafficking and strengthening the rights of trafficked persons.