Accountability and the Use of Raids to Fight Trafficking


  • Melissa Ditmore
  • Juhu Thukral



trafficking, mobility, migration, law enforcement, raids, US


Accountability in anti-trafficking efforts is a crucial but often overlooked aspect of deciding whether such efforts are truly rooted in a human rights framework. In a rush to help, and inspired by sensationalised views of what human trafficking is, many campaigns actually harm the very people they are supposed to assist. Law enforcement raids are one such effort, as they do not take into account the very different power dynamics between the actor engaging in the raid, and the person who is subject to the raid. Data from the United States suggests that raids conducted by local law enforcement agencies are an ineffective means of locating and identifying trafficked persons. Research also reveals that raids are all too frequently accompanied by violations of the human rights of trafficked persons and sex workers alike, and can therefore be counterproductive to the underlying goals of anti-trafficking initiatives. Findings suggest that a rights-based and “survivor-centred” approach to trafficking in persons requires the development and promotion of alternative methods of identifying and protecting the rights of trafficked persons which prioritise the needs, agency, and self-determination of trafficking survivors. They also indicate that preventative approaches, which address the circumstances that facilitate trafficking in persons, should be pursued over law enforcement based responses.


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Author Biographies

Melissa Ditmore

Melissa Ditmore, PhD, is an independent consultant specialising in issues of gender, development, health and human rights, particularly as they relate to marginalised populations such as sex workers, migrants and people who use drugs.

Juhu Thukral

Juhu Thukral is a leading expert on the rights of low-income and immigrant women in the areas of sexual health and rights, gender- based violence, economic security, and criminal justice. She is a founder of numerous ventures supporting women and LGBT people, and has been recognised by Women’s e-News as one of “21 Leaders for the 21st Century 2012”.




How to Cite

Ditmore, M., & Thukral, J. (2012). Accountability and the Use of Raids to Fight Trafficking. Anti-Trafficking Review, (1).