Sex Trafficking Literature Review

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In order to understand the race and gender of all men and women, Zinn and Dill maintain that multiracial feminism provides an analytical framework to explain cultural and group differences in society through their varying degrees of advantage and power (p. 324).

These differences are produced through interaction within a stratified social order. As an extension of intersectionality, its scope is widened to focus on how gender is construed through race and culture. The social constructionist approach is pertinent in approaching the human trafficking discourse, as Dr.

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Jo Doezema argues that power relations cause real practices in women, such as women’s sexual or economic subordination. However, how gendered, economic, and class-based power relations impact migration for the sex industry needs to be investigated.

Regarding intersectionality, Gloria Anzaldúa discusses how culture plays a role in understanding the mestiza identity by stating, “Within the US and within la cultura chicana, commonly held beliefs of the white culture attack commonly held beliefs of the Mexican culture, and both attack commonly held beliefs of the indigenous culture” (p. 100). On the journey to a new consciousness, Mexican-American women have to navigate two spheres or even decide to disengage from the dominant culture. The breakdown of paradigms depends on duality or straddling two or more cultures. This fight against separation by physical and imaginary borders can cause intense pain.

The Latino culture is one defined by gender roles; a machismo culture where no one challenges masculinity. Men exhibit sexist behavior, evident in that “the loss of a sense of dignity and respect in the macho breeds a false machismo which leads him to put down women and even to brutalize them” (p. 105). The Latino culture, rooted in dominant male behavior, is a result of patriarchy, which extends across cultures. This is why it is important to analyze sex trafficking through a gender and cultural perspective. Continuing the discussion, Jennifer Suchland also argues that taking culture into account is vital when understanding female sexual submission around the world.

She considers the global discourse of sex trafficking from the 1980s onward, which stems from patriarchal systems of sexual domination as well as colonization, illustrated by “women, set apart by physical differences between them and men, were the first colonized group… and this territory colonized was and remains our women’s bodies” (Barry 1979, 165). In analyzing women’s oppression, specifically sexual submission, a universal vision is necessary. Although different practices exist around the world, Barry argues that sex trafficking is rooted in a culturally universal patriarchy, so a global alliance, such as the UN’s involvement, is necessary to mitigate sex trafficking around the world.

Kempadoo, Sanghera, and Pattanaik also argue that gendered relations of power and gendered difference remain central to examinations of migration and sex work (p. x). The patriarchal institution of prostitution is believed to deceive victims of male power and privilege. In sum, participation and agreement from all countries is necessary and can also assist in cases of sex trafficking across borders.

Kempadoo, Sanghera, and Pattanaik examine the history of anti-migration and anti-prostitution foundations to understand the evolution and the most effective approaches to tackle the issue of human trafficking. They present the three main frameworks under which human trafficking is explained: abolitionist, criminal justice, and transnational feminist. These frameworks often overlap. For example, the legal approach of the UN protocol to human trafficking is lodged in a criminal justice framework (p.__). Jyoti Sanghera further analyzes the trafficking discourse through the lens of a rights-based approach, incorporating both a gender and development perspective.

Factors such as poverty, lack of sustainable livelihoods, structural inequalities in society, gender discrimination, war and armed conflict, and other forms of natural or constructed disasters, are not in themselves the causes of trafficking. They merely exacerbate the vulnerability of marginalized and disadvantaged groups and make them increasingly susceptible to various harms (p. 7). Any strategy to address the issue of human trafficking from a rights-based perspective must address the subjects’ illegalization and criminalization (p. 10). The multiple frameworks for viewing the human trafficking debate can pose challenges, as the issue is extremely complex with many disparate causes. This complexity makes decisions for policy and mitigation troublesome, especially in the international arena.

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Sex Trafficking Literature Review. (2019, Feb 16). Retrieved from