Join 3,517 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


The Countertraffickers
May 1, 2008 3:59 AM   Subscribe

William Finnegan reports on rescuing the victims of the global sex trade. You can also listen to Finnegan talking about the research for the article. (New Yorker)
posted by fourcheesemac (11 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
Laura Agustin's book Sex at the Margins: Migration, Labour Markets and the Rescue Industry (lots of links to discussions, reviews) has been doing the rounds recently. She is skeptical about the demonisation of migration to work in the sex trade, seeing it as a rational choice for many of the participants.

New Statesman review, including a good discussion of the differing viewpoints from commenters:
"As both reviewer and book and some comments point out, young women can and do make informed choices to enter the sex industry, and young immigrant women in particular may be choosing to leave conditions that are far worse."
"It is hardly news that poverty is a big push factor in making women available for 'survival sex', domestic or trafficked in global trade. Agustin's ploy is to transform decisions made under coercive conditions into farsighted career decisions. Her argument that anti-trafficking laws deprive women victims of 'agency' accepts without irony Anatole France's observation that 'The law, in its majestic equality, forbids rich and poor alike to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal their bread.'"
posted by alasdair at 4:29 AM on May 1, 2008


Wow, an apologia for slavery -- what will they think of next?
posted by fourcheesemac at 5:38 AM on May 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


Finnegan is one of my favorite NY'er contributors. Thanks for this 4cm.
posted by vronsky at 6:50 AM on May 1, 2008


An organization that is actively working on this is World Hope International, they are doing more good than most, and rarely getting enough noticed for their efforts.
posted by parmanparman at 7:18 AM on May 1, 2008


As both reviewer and book and some comments point out, young women can and do make informed choices to enter the sex industry, and young immigrant women in particular may be choosing to leave conditions that are far worse.

As many of you may know from my past posts, I work in the US immigration business, on the law enforcement side. I often have to deal with the horribly ugly reality of human trafficing cases. Sometimes, on occasion, the women I work with went in to the prospect of being trafficed for sex work knowing what they were getting into. They were prostitutes or strippers back home and are looking for more money in a richer country. Sometimes, more often than not, they are aware of the possibility of being put into prostitution, but keep lying to themselves and their families that they will "just be a bar hostess," "it's just a theraputic massage parlor" or "I'll always be able to quit and get a real job if it gets uncomfortable." Sometimes, more often than the first set anyway, the girls are naive and desperate or were sold into the business by relatives. In these cases, often they have been lied to at every turn. "You'll be a student at a prestigious American school that charges very little money." When they arrive they are given a bill for thousands of dollars in hidden fees and then given the "opportunity" to work off their massive debt. In extreme cases they are raped and therefore "ruined" and unable to return home and face the loss of face to their family.

In no case that I have encountered has the life of prostitution been better than life back home. Even with the money, drugs and the knowledge that folks back home are eating, paying rent, or driving a new car have any of the women prefered that life to being back in poverty with their families.

Somehow though, I hear the above expressed over and over, usually by people who know little or nothing about the horrible reality of the situation or, and this is more often the case, by the pimps and traffikers who are justifying their own despicable behavior.
posted by Pollomacho at 8:04 AM on May 1, 2008 [6 favorites]


Human trafficking is slavery. Period. I am in favor of legalizing prostitution, but anyone who says that human trafficking is anything other than slavery and rape is either an idiot or lying.
posted by kyrademon at 1:00 PM on May 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


Ben Skinner's excellent new book A Crime So Monstrous: Face-to-Face with Modern-Day Slavery is an extremely well written and fascinating dive into human trafficking/slavery. I highly recommend it if you are looking for more on this topic.
posted by brheavy at 3:41 PM on May 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


Also, late returning because I was on the road -- a lot of the "women" are actually "girls," and there is no reaking excuse in the universe that covers that, period.

Finnegan is my very fave New Yorker writer too, btw
posted by fourcheesemac at 4:57 AM on May 2, 2008


As both reviewer and book and some comments point out, young women can and do make informed choices to enter the sex industry, and young immigrant women in particular may be choosing to leave conditions that are far worse.

I should add that I hear similar apologetics from human traffickers that are not involved in the sex trade. The whole "you should see the conditions they live in back home" carries over weather its a girl raped into prostitution or a fruit picker living in a trailer with 75 of his co-workers. Interestingly you can see the same sort of statements from sleeze-bags like Thomas Jefferson when justifying official termed slavery.
posted by Pollomacho at 5:29 AM on May 2, 2008


There is a powerful 2002 film, “Lilya 4-Ever,” (available on google video) about the trafficking of a young girl from a post-Soviet wasteland into prostitution in Sweden, in high schools across Moldova. The film, which is based on a real story and ends with the girl’s suicide.
posted by semmi at 2:19 PM on May 5, 2008 [1 favorite]


Disregard ", in high schools across Moldova." Sorry.
posted by semmi at 2:20 PM on May 5, 2008


« Older "The Coming Collapse of the Middle Class"...  |  May Day celebrations of yester... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments