Melissa Ditmore's picture

review of Siddarth Kara's Sex trafficking

Here is a short excerpt from my review of Siddarth Kara's book Sex Trafficking for the  Women's Review of Books.

Unfortunately, although Kara understands the variety of trafficking situations, he is stuck on sex trafficking. He meets trafficked workers in fields such as agriculture and construction, but pursues elusive sex slaves.  He never asks any of the people he seeks out—the poor women, sex workers, child carpet-weavers, or bonded-laborer families making bricks—what would actually help them. Although he is sensitive to their plights, he is insensitive and uninterested in their needs and desires. Rather than focus on structural issues, his book turns to salacious material and hero fantasies. A romantic outsider, he pushes ineffective remedies.

Summary Statement: Special Forum on Sex Work, Trafficking and Human Rights

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Summary Statement: Special Forum on Sex Work, Trafficking and Human Rights


With the participation of over a dozen prominent sex worker advocates, researchers and writers, we've had a very productive week! If you're into numbers, during the forum we had about 4,000 visits from nearly 3,500 unique visitors for a total of nearly 10,500 page views. While the forum officially ends today, the forum topics will remain on the site and active so we can continue the conversations as we like.

The forum addressed a range of topics from labor rights to immigration, and from variations in individual experiences in sex work to the way that consumers in the sex industry are understood. We think that the following are some of the most important points to emerge from the discussions:

Amber Rhea's picture

Speaking of media representation of trafficking...

If anyone wants to try their hand at dissecting this article , go for it. It certainly exemplifies a lot of the problems we've been discussing this week.

I have a lot of thoughts about the article, but I'm too disillusioned with Creative Loafing (some of you know my history w/ them, including their most recent offense w/ their representation of Steve Gower) to feel up to exerting the effort to write something.

I will say, though, that Rusty and I turned down a potential web development job from Innocence Atlanta (the organization mentioned in the article), because the language on their web site conflated voluntary adult sex work with child sex trafficking. The worst offender for me was a sentence that talked about ways business owners can help, and one of the things mentioned was "hire a reformed stripper."

Elizabeth's picture

Winding down and moving forward

As the forum is winding down I can't help but look back at Stacey Swimme's forum post and think about how well it lays out some of the broad themes that unite discussions of sex work and trafficking but that the mainstream media is constantly diverting our attention from. Our wideranging discussions this past week only touched the tips of so many proverbial icebergs.

Her title, "Smoke and Mirrors," is particularly apt. Many of us do work that is directed at refocusing attention onto these complex issues of class inequality in the US and globally, of labor markets and consumer economies, of sensationalistic media outlets that all but ignore our issues unless something scandalous can be paraded in front of viewers/readers, and of politicians who prefer moralism to evidence.

Elizabeth's picture

Migration, sex, work, and policy

Its interesting that we've largely gotten away from the "trafficking" part of the original discussion, and maybe that's partly because it's even harder to talk about than sex work is.

kerwynk's picture

Problems with anti-trafficking legislation

I originally posted this in response to Audacia's interview on WNYC, but (upon request) am also posting a modified version as a new topic. To wit:

One of the main concerns I have with the anti-trafficking legislation is that it encourages policing activities that are actually counter-productive for the overwhelming majority of sex workers. But understanding why this is true requires that one have a realistic understanding as to the diversity of working conditions within the sex biz. 

Smoke and Mirrors

Human trafficking is happening. Let’s just get that out of the way up front. This is not a debate as to whether trafficking actually exists. I am pro-choice in that all people should have autonomy over their own bodies. I am against slavery, violence, and exploitation in any form against any gender. Forced prostitution is not sex work. It is rape. I understand that sexual violence is just one way that human oppression manifests itself.

To end exploitation we have to consider the many factors that are contributing to this global problem including racism, sexism, poverty, nationalism and the culture of violence that is rewarded and reinforced around the world. One cannot address the full spectrum of issues associated with human trafficking in a single post. This is an analysis of the consumer-driven demand for cheap labor and a call to any human with a conscience to take personal action to end human trafficking.

Special Forum: Sex Work, Trafficking and Human Rights - click on the banner to enter

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Forum topic posts will be shown here, on the front page, too!

Elizabeth's picture

Sex in the Public Square Presents ....

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For one week, starting next Monday, we'll be devoting a forum to that discussion of reducing harm to sex workers and ending human rights abuses involved in the movement of labor around the globe. This is not a debate on the legitimacy of sex work but rather an exploration of how to protect people's human rights. We've invited some of the smartest sex worker advocates we know -- representing a range of connections to the sex industry -- to talk about the intersection of these complicated issues (and also to talk about how to make them easier to discuss!). Here's how it'll work:

a candle light vigil to remember the forgotten

i know this is terribly late as the event is tomorrow and there are very few people who will actually be in london on such short notice but i'm just trying to hold up my side of the pond!!

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