Myths About Human Trafficking

An article by Ronald Weitzer (Professor of sociology, George Washington University) on the Huffington post entitled Myths About Human Trafficking  discusses Human Trafficking and sex work.  The author acknowledges that trafficking is a serious problem, but points out the myths frequently voiced in the media and by government officials. Instances where numbers are pulled out of the air, 20 million cases each year world wide (Washington post June 28, 2011). An episode of Oprah claimed millions of children are trafficked into prostitution each year. The US Government has been revising its figures down to 800,000 world wide, down from 4 million in 2000.

He could also have mentioned the German World Cup, the Greek Olympics, the South African World Cup, and closer to home the Super Bowl, where conflated estimates for trafficking were given before the event.  In actuality very very little forced sex work was found, and the sex workers of South Africa were disappointed by the lack of trade.  I expect this was deemed a great success by the abolitionists, the activity of the police proved sufficient deterrent to would be traffickers,

Ronald points out that there still is a stark difference between official estimates and the tiny number of victims identified. He also points out the conflation of trafficking and sex work that is happening world wide.

The arguments raged in the comments after, with the anti prostitution brigade bringing up the usual arguments, of well one is too many, and if it was your sister. Yes I agree it would be devastating if she were forced into sex work. It would be devastating if she were assaulted working as a nurse in a hospital by a patient. We don’t close hospitals for that reason, but instead offer protection to the nurses and doctors, and work to improve their safety with their consultation.

Another argument raised by the abolitionists is that entry into sex work in under 14. What this has to do with the argument on trafficking is open to argument. Again this is deliberately misread and misinterpreted research from the deeply-fla­wed Estes & Weiner study, which actually stated that the average UNDERAGE prostitute entered the trade at 15.96 (i.e. 16). The average prostitute in general (counting escorts and massage girls rather than only underage street workers) starts at 24. Take look at ( http://dee­pthroated.­wordpress.­com/2010/1­2/04/avera­ge-age-of-­entry/ ).

Its good to see some well known America sex workers and activists visited the comments section and defended the tenant of the article by Ronald Weitzer.

Reading the comments, I was reminded of this resource which contains many links to interesting articles.  The site is called Trafficking Policy Research Project: Examining the Effects of U.S. Trafficking Laws and Policies.

This site collects and presents research and commentary regarding the effects of United States Trafficking Laws and Policies in the US and internationally. The Trafficking Policy Research Project provides an outline of alternative analyses and strategies for the global problems of trafficking and forced labor, prioritizing welfare of sex workers in the context of migrant labor. Trafficking in the sex industry is examined within the range of abuses within the sex industries with goals of decriminalization and sex industry reform. Links are primarily from Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women, Network of Sexwork Projects , the International Human Rights Law Group, and Human Rights Watch.



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