Beyond Border Security: Feminist Approaches to Human Trafficking

Lobasz, Jennifer K.(2009) ‘Beyond Border Security: Feminist Approaches to Human Trafficking’, Security Studies, 18: 2, 319 — 344. (Full article available here)

International human trafficking—sometimes referred to as modern-day slavery—has increasingly come to be seen as a security threat. The question remains as to what kind of threat human trafficking poses. Traditional security approaches to international human trafficking call for analysis of trafficking as a threat to the
state and to state control of borders. Traditional security analyses of trafficking therefore emphasize border security, migration controls, and international law enforcement cooperation. Feminist analyses of human trafficking challenge the traditional security framework, prioritizing the security of trafficked persons and recognizing the manner in which victims are threatened by both traffickers and the state itself. I argue that feminist approaches to human trafficking are essential for understanding and combating the phenomenon.
Feminists identify the ethical and pragmatic grounds for broadening the analytical focus from states to people. Feminists’ most important contribution, however, lies in the investigations of the social construction of human trafficking, which highlight the destructive role that sexist and racist stereotypes play in constructing the category of trafficking victims.

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