Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Traffic Noise

The government has set up a new agency to combat people trafficking. A worthy enough cause in my view, but one distorted once again by the feminist-dominated media. All we hear about is women trafficked to work as prostitutes against their will. We just love stories about female victims, don't we? We can't get enough of them. I'm not saying it never happens, but let's get some facts straight.

  1. The agency itself identifies four different markets for people trafficking (in no particular order):

    • Those trafficked to work as prostitutes (Predominantly women).
    • Those trafficked to undertake forced labour (Mainly men).
    • Children (Presumably for adoption by childless couples).
    • Those trafficked to work as domestic servants (Presumably mainly female).

  2. Abductions are rare. With the exception of children, almost all traffickees are trafficked voluntarily, and even pay large sums for the privilege. They are economic migrants.
  3. The UN has stated that those most likely to be trafficked for forced labour are men.

We never hear most of that. All we hear about is women being tricked or forced into prostitution. Some writers have commented that the moral panic over people-trafficking is simply a resurgence of the myth of the 'White Slave Trade, a nineteenth century moral panic created for largely racist motives.
This article is particularly worth reading:

The campaign against 'trafficking in women' has gained increasing momentum world-wide, but in particular among feminists in Europe and the United States, in the last two decades. This current campaign is not the first time that the international community has become concerned with the fate of young women abroad. Modern concerns with prostitution and 'trafficking in women' have a historical precedent in the anti-white-slavery campaigns that occurred at the turn of the century. Feminist organisations played key roles in both past and present campaigns. While current concerns are focused on the exploitation of third world/non-western women by both non-western and western men, concerns then were with the abduction of European women for prostitution in South America, Africa or 'the Orient' by non-western men or other subalterns. Yet, though the geographical direction of the traffic has switched, much of the rhetoric accompanying the campaigns sounds almost completely the same. Then as now, the paradigmatic image is that of a young and naive innocent lured or deceived by evil traffickers into a life of sordid horror from which escape is nearly impossible.

The mythical nature of this paradigm of the 'white slave' has been demonstrated by historians. Similarly, recent research indicates that today's stereotypical 'trafficking victim' bears as little resemblance to women migrating for work in the sex industry as did her historical counterpart, the 'white slave'. The majority of 'trafficking victims' are aware that the jobs offered them are in the sex industry, but are lied to about the conditions they will work under. Yet policies to eradicate trafficking continue to be based on the notion of the 'innocent', unwilling victim, and often combine efforts designed to protect 'innocent' women with those designed to punish 'bad' women: i.e. prostitutes.

The current moral panic is not really an anti-people trafficking effort at all; it is an anti-prostitution campaign; we are being told the lie that the two things are one and the same.

The nineteen cockle-pickers who drowned in Morecambe Bay were people-trafficked illegal immigrants. Seventeen of the dead were men. I don't hear much moral panic about that. Where are the tabloid headlines like "Trafficked to death"? As the call-girl-cum-author Belle de Jour pointed out in her letter to the Guardian (unpublished), "When Chinese migrants died collecting cockles, no one was daft enough to suggest that the solution was to limit the number of shellfish one should have access to, or better still, forbid people from eating fruits of the sea altogether."

The desire to combat people-trafficking is not an argument against legal prostitution. If anything, it is an argument for it.

How ironic it is to witness the Left frothing at the mouth about the issue of illegal immigrants. And for all the wrong reasons.

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